A Buckholts Independent School District vocational agriculture teacher was arrested Monday morning at his home and charged with a misdemeanor official oppression charge in connection with a sexual harassment allegation.
Steve Alan Gaylord, 62, was held Monday in the Milam County Jail for a few hours before he was released on $2,500 bail, Milam County Sheriff David Greene said.
A copy of the Oct. 20 complaint said Gaylord, in his capacity as a Buckholts ISD teacher, on or about Oct. 11 intentionally subjected another person to sexual harassment by making inappropriate comments and displaying inappropriate behavior.
Dr. Dirk Dykstra, Buckholts ISD superintendent, issued a statement Monday:
“Buckholts ISD cannot comment on ongoing investigations except to say that Mr. Gaylord was placed on administrative leave shortly after certain claims were brought to our attention. In addition to the district’s own investigation, Buckholts ISD has, and will continue to, work with law enforcement and other state authorities in this matter.”
Gaylord was placed on paid administrative leave, he confirmed during a Monday phone call.
Gaylord said in an interview he believes he was falsely accused by some students out of retaliation for not getting their way.
“I believe in discipline and Buckholts ISD is out of control,” he said.
He pats children on the back or hugs them sometimes to help motivate them, but he said some must have taken it the wrong way.
“Since when is it a crime to motivate or encourage students, especially when some of them have such low self-esteem?” Gaylord asked. “I give lots of compliments to teachers and students alike. Hugging isn’t a crime.”
After about a week or 10 days of investigation by the Buckholts Police Department, a case against Gaylord was presented to Milam County District Attorney Bill Torrey.
Torrey authorized the Class A misdemeanor complaint, Buckholts Police Chief Shawn Newsom said Monday.
“No children were endangered,” Newsom said. “Our number one goal is to protect the children.”
Evidence was sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab for review and more interviews are underway, Newsom said. Investigators were assigned by the Texas Education Agency and Child Protective Services, he said.
Gaylord said he didn’t understand the charge against him. “I still don’t understand what official oppression means, even though I looked it up,” he said.
“I’ve hollered at the kids before. This is the most undisciplined class I’ve ever had in 17 years of teaching school,” he said.
“In my heart, with God as my witness, I’ve prayed about this a long time. I made no sexual innuendos to these students. I’ve searched my heart,” Gaylord said.
As part of the current investigation, information was discovered that Gaylord had a previous sexual harassment charge that didn’t involve sexual contact. The charge was sustained against him by the Texas Education Agency, but it was never placed on his official record because Gaylord went through counseling.
Gaylord confirmed the previous TEA charge Monday during a phone interview. He said in 1999 he resigned his position at Lake Worth ISD and went through some training and did counseling on his own. He said that TEA allowed him to keep his teaching certificate and didn’t put the information on his teaching record.
A June 1990 case found online showed Gaylord appealed a ruling by a Kansas district court that affirmed the termination of his teaching contract with the Morton Unified School District. The ruling was that Gaylord was insubordinate because he called in sick after his request for a day off was denied. Evidence proved that Gaylord called in sick after his request for a day off to be interviewed for another job in Bovina, Texas, was denied. Gaylord’s wife called the school and said he was sick. Later that day, the Bovina High School principal asked for a recommendation for Gaylord, who had just left the interview.
The next day Gaylord filled out a sick leave form and turned in a doctor’s note, the document said. He was notified later of the board’s intent to terminate his contract on the basis of insubordination, failure to follow board policy and abusive treatment of students. A due process hearing occurred and the panel found there wasn’t sufficient evidence of failure to follow board policy and abusive treatment of students. However, there was just cause for the insubordination ruling, the court documents said.
A LinkedIn account showed that Gaylord was hired February 2014 in Buckholts.
Gaylord’s Buckholts ISD profile said he graduated from Elkhart High School in Elkhart, Kan., and received his associate arts degree in feedlot management from Colby Community College in Norton, Kan. He received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture education from Texas Tech University and his master’s degree in vocational education from Colorado State University, the profile said.
He has 17 years experience teaching vocational agriculture, Gaylord said, as well as five years as a Texas county extension agent. He said he worked with the Soil Conservation Service as a soil conservationist and the Farmers Home Administration as a loan officer. The profile said he served two years on Colorado’s State Board of Vocational Education and Curriculum, and was on the Kansas State Board of Agriculture.