ATHENS, Texas (KETK) — The jobs of two educators at Athens ISD are at stake after community members say they aided a student who was in a bad situation at home.

The two educators, Dean of Early College High School Athens Jennifer Risinger and Kayla Stanley, a coach and teacher at Athens Middle School, have received support from some community members who said the issue began in August when they answered a plea for help coming from a student.

“They were contacted from the person themselves, the young lady wanted help and then it’s been a spiral from there,” said Cheme Pearce, former Athens ISD staff member. “It’s a witch hunt, I have no other way to put it.”

Stanley has since resigned to continue aiding the student, and the Athens ISD Board of Trustees will hold a meeting on Wednesday at noon to “consider proposed termination of [a] contract employee.”

The district provided KETK the following statement:

“The leadership team of Athens ISD is well aware of how disruptive the removal of an administrator is mid-year and would never choose to do so without good cause. A thorough investigation has found what the leadership team and legal counsel believe to be multiple policy violations, as well as additional concerning conduct that warrants further review by the board. We are committed to acting in the best interest of our district and students under any circumstances.

Regarding the meeting time: The time was set solely because it was the most convenient time for board members to gather for a special meeting. This is not uncommon. It will be the fourth time this year to meet at noon or 11:45. In 2022, the board met five times at or very near noon.”

Athens ISD

Parents said the district is holding the educators accountable for breaking policy which prohibits texting a student outside the school’s communication app.

“Coaches text their students outside the Remind apps, so if it’s being applied to these teachers and principal, it should be applied to everyone across the school district,” said Chet Patel, a concerned parent.

Cobee Garner, a freshman, has known Risinger since Garner was in elementary school and said the situation is heartbreaking.

“I’m really not proud to be a hornet and it really turns around my perspective on how we treat people and how we really don’t see the love anymore,” said Garner. 

Victoria Smith, an Athens ISD parent, knows the student and said she’s shown tremendous progress since being helped by the teachers.