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FOR

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TO: Media Requesting Information
FROM: Powell & Leon, LLP, counsel for Kirbyville CISD
DATE: June 13, 2017
CONTACT: sleon@powell-leon.com


Kirbyville CISD files court brief detailing the circumstances
surrounding the suicide of former principal Dennis Reeves

BEAUMONT, TXThis morning, attorneys for Kirbyville CISD filed an 11-page brief with the
137th Judicial District Court in Jefferson County, which discloses background information
surrounding the May 23, 2017, suicide of former principal Dennis Reeves.

The brief provides background into allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior brought to
Mr. Reevess attention in the weeks preceding his suicide. The school administration followed
protocol in addressing the allegations. The district asserts that is has actively cooperated with
law enforcement and requests by the Reeves family for information, and has no intent to
destroy any records concerning Mr. Reevess employment or his suicide.

Attorneys for the school district will ask the court to dissolve a temporary restraining order that
potentially allows outside plaintiff attorneys broad and virtually unlimited access to the
personal, work, and official records of school employees and trustees without cause. The
attorneys also argue that the Jefferson County court has no jurisdiction over the matter, since
the Reeves family has stated no case against the school district or its employees and trustees.

The districts brief disclosed the following facts to the court surrounding Mr. Reevess suicide:

In the weeks leading up to his suicide, Principal Reeves was the subject of two separate
allegations of harassment in the workplace, by a teacher and by a former secretary.

Mr. Reeves had been sent home from work by Superintendent Tommy Wallis for a
cooling off period due to his workplace behavior.

One complaint by a female teacher alleged that Mr. Reeves sent her hundreds of text
messages and she wanted this to cease.

Another harassment complaint came from an employee with whom Mr. Reeves had a
previous extramarital affair. The employee alleged that Mr. Reeves was sending her
unwanted text messages and that his wife, Tammy Reeves, was also sending unwanted
text messages and targeting her with vulgar and unwanted social media posts. In one,
Mrs. Reeves posted you are still alive only because I cant afford a hitman.

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On May 23, 2017, Superintendent Tommy Wallis, accompanied by the assistant
superintendent, met with Mr. Reeves about the harassment allegations. Mr. Reeves was
informed that the district would have to investigate the allegations against him and he
would be placed on administrative leave during that period. Mr. Reeves was offered the
opportunity to tender his resignation if he did not want an investigation to take place.

Mr. Reeves chose to tender his resignation in lieu of an investigation into his conduct.
He departed from the school and shot himself in his vehicle, which was parked in the
school parking lot.

In order to protect the privacy of the Reeves family, Superintendent Wallis did not fully
disclose the complexity of Mr. Reevess employment and marital difficulties to the
media in an interview immediately following the suicide.

Following the suicide, Tammy Reeves asked Superintendent Wallis for Mr. Reevess
district-owned cell phone and a copy of his resignation letter, both of which were
provided to her. She also asked for the written statement by Mr. Reevess former
secretary that contained allegations of harassment. This could not be provided at that
time because it contained personal information that the district was not at liberty to
disclose without an Attorney Generals opinion.

No other requests for documents were made by the Reeves family prior to a plaintiff
attorney seeking a restraining order against the district on their behalf. The order
purports to preserve records but also seeks broad and virtually unrestrained access to
personal, work, and official records of school employees and trustees without cause.

Attorneys for Kirbyville CISD explain that no proper evidence supports the suggestion that
anyone with the district would destroy, alter or tamper with the information, records or
equipment subject to the order. District attorneys also explain that the restraining order was
improperly sought, improvidently granted, and should be dissolved.

Superintendent Tommy Wallis offered the following statement: This is a tragedy for the entire
Kirbyville community. The districts counsel is working hard to provide a full, open, and
transparent resolution to this difficult situation. Our district administration is focused on
supporting our students and employees, and helping this community heal.

A copy of the court brief is attached to this release.

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- Page 2 of 2 -
CAUSE NO. D-200,185

IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF



In re: TAMMY REEVES, et al. JEFFERSON COUNTY, TEXAS

136TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT

RESPONDENTS BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF


PLEA TO THE JURISDICTION AND
MOTION TO DISSOLVE TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER

Movants are the wife, children, and parents of former Kirbyville High School Principal Dennis

Reeves, who obtained an ex parte Temporary Restraining Order in this Court on June 6, 2017.

Respondents are the Kirbyville Consolidated Independent School District (Kirbyville CISD or the

District) as well as named trustees, administrators, and staff members. Movants allege no cause of

action, assert no facts that would give this Court jurisdiction over the familys search for the truth, and

seek by way of remedy broad and virtually unlimited authority to access the personal, work, and official

records of school district employees and trustees as well as an injunction against the destruction of school

district, private, personal, and work electronic records that may be in the possession of the named

Respondents. The facts in issue are the fodder for a soap opera serial, not a cause of action in a court of

law. There being no grounds for jurisdiction before this Court or action for injunctive relief, the

Temporary Restraining Order should be immediately dissolved and the case dismissed for lack of

jurisdiction.

I.
BACKGROUND FACTS

Dennis Reeves was employed as Principal of the Kirbyville High School from May 19, 2014 until

May 23, 2017. Dr. Thomas Wallis was hired as Superintendent of Schools of the Kirbyville Consolidated

Independent School District on April 1, 2017.

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On Friday, May 19, 2017, Dennis Reeves apparently confessed to his wife, Tammy Reeves, that

he had an extramarital affair with his former secretary during the preceding school year. That evening,

Tammy Reeves sent the former secretary, a Kirbyville CISD employee, an angry text message: He told

me everything today. You are a lying piece of trash Do your children know what their mother did?

On May 22, 2017, Mrs. Reeves sent another hostile text message, calling the former secretary a needy

whore and disgusting form of human being. Mrs. Reeves also expressed her anger on social media,

posting an image of a personal note written by the former secretary to Dennis Reeves, next to the text,

You realize youre still alive only because I cant afford a hitman, right? and railing publicly against the

secretary who had been f***ing my husband.

On the afternoon of May 23, 2017, the former secretary asked for a meeting with Assistant

Superintendent Georgia Sayers. In the meeting with Ms. Sayers, the employee revealed for the first time

the nature of the relationship between her and Mr. Reeves. She expressed concern about the social media

harassment from Mrs. Reeves and described her concerns about workplace harassment from Mr. Reeves.

Ms. Sayers asked Dr. Wallis to join the meeting. Dr. Wallis was apprised of the affair and the

hostile communications from Mrs. Reeves.

The conflict between Tammy Reeves and the former secretary began the preceding school year

when rumors surfaced in the community that Dennis Reeves and his secretary were having an affair. The

Superintendent at the time, Richard Hazelwood, confronted both Reeves and his secretary; both

adamantly denied the affair. Text messages between Tammy Reeves and the former secretary from that

time period suggest that a similar denial had been made to Tammy Reeves. Beginning in the fall of 2015,

Tammy Reeves sent the former secretary text messages and posted taunting messages on social media,

such as the following mocking posts made in December of 2015: I wonder sometimes how you can sleep

at night because of the horrible person you really are some of us have read your secret e-mails;

Trash will always be trash; Buck teeth and bad skinLOL. The former secretary requested, and

received, a new position on another campus. Tammy Reeves social media posts from this time period

reflect an I win message, taunting the former secretary for having sought the interest of Dennis Reeves.

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Dennis Reeves May 19, 2017 confession followed shortly after another employee had

independently complained of workplace harassment.

On April 11, 2017, a Kirbyville CISD teacher met with Principal Reeves in a tense meeting in

which the Principal raised his voice, making the teacher feel uncomfortable. The teacher threatened to

show Dr. Wallis the hundreds of text messages that she had received from Mr. Reeves. A witness to the

meeting noted that Mr. Reeves was emotional and shaking and in a statement he later made to Dr.

Wallis, Mr. Reeves admitted that he had been frustrated and had raised his voice.

On April 13, 2017, the teacher carried through on her threat, and complained to Kirbyville CISD

administrators that Reeves had been sending her an excessive number of unwanted text messages,

expressing that she could no longer work under Reeves supervision. The teacher threatened to resign. Dr.

Wallis counseled with Reeves, advised him to immediately cease contacting the teacher by text message,

directed him to stay off social media, and directed him not to return to the campus for the remainder of

the day to allow for a cooling off period.

Reeves sent his former secretary text messages, asking her to intercede with the teacher in an

attempt to improve relations between the teacher and Reeves.

During the ensuing weeks, both women complained to District administrators. The former

secretary informed Dr. Wallis that she had been receiving hostile text messages and social media postings

from Mrs. Reeves for a period of time. When the former secretary disclosed Reeves text messages,

Wallis asked about the nature of the relationship between the two. The former secretary denied any

romantic connection, and both women stated they wanted the messaging from Reeves to stop, but they

did not want to pursue formal harassment complaints against him.

The District Respondents are not aware of the specific facts that caused Dennis Reeves to admit

on May 19, 2017 the truth of his earlier affair, but the proximity in time to the April 13, 2017 cooling off

period and the renewed contacts to the former secretary all took place during this timeframe, suggesting

that Tammy Reeves also began asking her husband difficult questions at home.

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On May 23, 2017, after the former secretary gave her verbal statement to Superintendent Wallis

and Assistant Superintendent Sayers, the two administrators asked the former secretary to commit her

complaint to writing while the administrators met with Reeves. Reeves was presented with the certainty

of an administrative investigation and was informed that he would be administratively suspended for

three days pending the investigation. Reeves was asked for his laptop, keys, and District-issued cell

phone. Reeves pulled out his District-issued cell phone and began quickly deleting messages.

Reeves was offered the opportunity to resolve the situation with his reputation intact by resigning.

Forced with two unpleasant alternatives, Reeves tendered his resignation in lieu of an investigation into

his conduct. He brought some materials back to the office, and told Sayers, Im not good, Im not good.

Ms. Sayers had supervised Mr. Reeves for three years, and the two had developed a working

understanding: Its not good meant that Mr. Reeves had committed an error that required Sayers to

intervene. Ms. Sayers understood Mr. Reeves statement to mean that he had made a serious mistake. Ms.

Sayers acknowledged, I know.

A short time later, using his own weapon, Reeves shot himself in his vehicle that was parked in

the school parking lot. The events took place so quickly that the former secretary never had time to finish

her written complaint.

On May 24, 2017, the District was inundated with media inquiries into the suicide. The police

investigation was ongoing, and Mr. Reeves children attended the Kirbyville schools. Dr. Wallis did not

fully disclose the complexity of Mr. Reeves employment and marital difficulties in his initial media

statements. His efforts to protect the reputation of Dennis Reeves and his family snowballed into media

allegations of deception. Dr. Wallis statement to the police was released days later, and a more complete

account of the moments immediately preceding Mr. Reeves decision to take his own life was released to

the public.

After the suicide, Tammy Reeves approached District administration, asking for the District-

issued cell phone so that she could remove family photos. The District cooperated with that request and

gave her the phone. Tammy Reeves removed or deleted information without interference from the

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District. Mrs. Reeves asked for a copy of her husbands letter of resignation; that letter was provided to

her. She asked for the former secretarys written statement. At that point in time, the District had received

multiple media requests for the same document. The administration was advised by its school attorneys

that an Attorney General ruling would be neededthe document contains intimate personal information

that is likely not subject to the Public Information Act. Mrs. Reeves was informed that she would need to

wait for the Attorney General ruling. Mrs. Reeves also asked to remove personal items from her

husbands office. Administrators gathered up school documents from the office; confidential student

records and school records were boxed up, removed, and stored before Mrs. Reeves was permitted access

to the office. Mrs. Reeves was then allowed to privately remove anything she wanted from her husbands

former office. No other requests for records or information were received from Mrs. Reeves prior to the

filing of the Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order.

II.
ARGUMENT AND AUTHORITIES

1. Kirbyville CISD and its trustees and employees are immune from suit; the
request for injunctive relief must be denied for want of jurisdiction.

Whether a court has subject matter jurisdiction is a question of law. Tex. Natural Res.

Conservation Commn v. IT-Davy, 74 S.W.3d 849, 855 (Tex. 2002). The existence of subject-matter

jurisdiction is to be decided by the court based on the pleadings or other evidence. Texas Dept. of Parks &

Wildlife v. Miranda, 133 S.W. 3d 217, 226-27 (Tex. 2004). When a plea to the jurisdiction challenges the

pleadings, the Court must determine if the pleader has alleged facts that affirmatively demonstrate the

Courts jurisdiction to hear the cause. Id.; Tex. Assn of Bus. v. Tex. Air Control Bd., 852 S.W.2d 440, 446

(Tex. 1993).

Governmental, or sovereign, immunity from suit destroys the jurisdiction of the trial court and is

properly asserted in a plea to the jurisdiction. City of Dallas v. Turley, 316 S.W.3d 762, 767 (Tex. App.

Dallas 2010, pet. denied). Only an express waiver of governmental immunity by the legislature or the

entity itself grants jurisdiction to the trial court. Id.

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Kirbyville CISD is a public school district and local governmental subdivision of the State of

Texas and, as such, is immune from suit. Barr v. Bernhard, 562 S.W.2d 844, 846 (Tex. 1978); Braun v.

Trustees of Victoria Independent School District, 114 S.W.2d 947 (Tex. Civ. App. San Antonio 1938,

writ refd); Coleman v. Beaumont Independent School District, 496 S.W.2d 245 (Tex. Civ. App.

Beaumont 1973, writ refd n.r.e.).

In their official capacities, employees of a government entity, such as Kirbyville CISD, are

entitled to the protections of governmental immunity to the same extent as the governmental entity.

Nueces County v. Ferguson, 97 S.W.3d 205, 215 (Tex. App.Corpus Christi 2002, no pet.); See also

TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. 101.102(b); Smith v. Davis, 999 S.W.2d 409, 416 (Tex. App.

Dallas 1999, no pet.). Persons sued in both their official and individual capacities may assert both

sovereign and official immunity, to the extent that they were acting within the scope of their employment.

Id. As a result, the individually named Respondents have all the immunities and protections that apply to

Kirbyville CISD and are immune from suit in their individual and official capacities under the doctrine of

governmental/sovereign immunity. Respondents immunity deprives this Court of jurisdiction.

Movants have alleged no cause of action within the Application for Temporary Restraining

Order, nor have they pleaded facts that would confer jurisdiction upon this Court. Movants admit they are

merely seeking to preserve records and tangible things in order to investigate the truth in relation to the

death of Dennis Reeves. They plead: On information or belief, this family is concerned that (a) the truth

has been silenced and distorted and (b) evidence of the truth has been, or is at risk to be, destroyed. No

jurisdictional facts have been pleaded that would confer jurisdiction upon the court as against the

sovereign immunity afforded the District and its employees. The facts pleaded negate jurisdiction. By the

facts pleadedspecifically the admission that no cause of action is being assertedthe Court cannot

confer jurisdiction over the Respondents, and the Temporary Restraining Order should be dissolved and

this matter dismissed.

To the extent the facts alleged in the Application hint at the type of claim Movants may be

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exploring, those allegations would point to a prospective negligence-type tort claim. Texas school

districts and their employees are protected by the doctrine of sovereign immunity and cannot be sued for

tort claims absent an express legislative waiver of immunity. Tex. Dept of Parks & Wildlife, 133 S.W.3d

at 224. Sovereign immunity deprives a court of subject matter jurisdiction when properly pleaded in a

plea to the jurisdiction. Id. Further, the doctrine of sovereign immunity protects public school districts

from negligence actions with only one exception as allowed by the Texas Tort Claims Act.1

Movants Application negates jurisdiction of the Court over this matter. Respondents Plea to the

Jurisdiction should be granted.

2. Movants allegations are insufficient to support a temporary injunction.

Injunctive relief is an extraordinary remedy and not a matter of right. Butnaru v. Ford Motor Co.,

84 S.W.3d 198, 204 (Tex. 2002). To obtain a temporary injunction, the Applicant must plead and prove

three specific elements: (1) a cause of action against the defendant; (2) a probable right to the relief

sought; and (3) a probable, imminent, and irreparable injury in the interim. Butnaru v. Ford Motor Co., 84

S.W.3d 198, 204 (Tex. 2002); Walling v. Metcalfe, 863 S.W.2d 56, 58 (Tex. 1983); Reliant Hosp.

Partners, LLC v. Cornerstone Healthcare Group Holdings, Inc., 374 S.W.3d 488, 495 (Tex. App. Dallas,

2012).

A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is a form of preliminary injunctive relief. A TRO must,

therefore, establish a probable right of recovery through a claim or cause of action. If a claim or cause of

action is not alleged, the trial court lacks authority to issue an injunction. Brittingham v. Ayala, 995

S.W.2d 199, 201 (Tex. App.San Antonio 1999, pet. denied). Movants not only plead no cause of

action, they expressly acknowledge that they do not have one. Accordingly, the Court lacks the authority

to issue any injunctive relief, including both a temporary restraining order and temporary injunction.

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This exception exists only for claims involving property damage, personal injury, and death caused by the school districts use
or operation of a motor vehicle, allegations that are wholly absent here. TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE 101.051.

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3. The Temporary Restraining Order is void on its fact.

Rule 680 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure states, in part:

Every temporary restraining order granted without notice shall be endorsed with the date
and hour of issuance; shall be filed forthwith in the clerks office and entered of record;
shall define the injury and state why it is irreparable and why the order was granted
without notice;

TEX. R. CIV. P. 680 (emphasis added).

i. No injury is defined.

The TRO is void on its face because an injury is not defined within it. The TRO does not

reference any particular cause of action pleaded by the Movants, nor does it reference any particular

statute or other law under which Movants rights or interests have allegedly been violated. In fact, the

TRO expressly disclaims any cause of action, as it states that without the TRO, Movants will be

deprived of the opportunity to present an essential element of proof in an action to be brought against

prospective Respondents. The TRO specifies that various records or tangible things of or relating to

District business be preserved and unaltered. But injunctive relief may not be granted without a party first

asserting a cause of action. See Cooper v. Litton Loan Savings, LP, 325 S.W.3d 766, 769 (Tex. App.

Dallas 2010, pet. denied). Effectively, the TRO improvidently purports to function as a pre-suit notice to

preserve pending investigation of a possible claim.

ii. The TRO does not state why the alleged injury is irreparable or why prior
notice to the Respondents was not granted.
Without an injury, there can be no basis for finding an irreparable injury. There is no explanation

of what cause of action the evidence to be preserved under the TRO would support; so, by extension,

there is no specification of how the injury would be irreparable. Respondents were not offered the

opportunity to address the Court; no basis for an ex parte filing has been offered.

Deceptively, Movants allege Respondents have been stonewalling the Reeves familys search for

the truth, although all of their requests for information made to date have been granted or responded to.

Clearly, Tammy Reeves has more information about her late husbands frame of mind on May 23, 2017

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than she has shared either with the District or with the Court. As a governmental entity, Kirbyville CISD

operates under the Texas records retention statute, TEX. GOVT CODE 441.158, and no evidence has

been offered in support of Movants allegations of concerns of records destruction. What the TRO has

accomplished, however, is a frenzy of speculation. Kirbyville CISD has a contract for document

shredding services to assist the District in maintaining the confidentiality of student records. At the end of

the school year, confidential student records, such as extra copies of student special education

evaluations, student test papers left over from the previous semester, and paper copies of graded materials

that have been entered into the formal student gradebooks, are shredded. Federal privacy laws prevent the

District from disposing of these materials in a fashion that would violate student confidentiality.

Conspiracy theorists and overzealous community members met the shredder truck last week, convinced of

some form of massive cover-up. As a consequence, boxes of trash still line the halls of the school and

administration building, and the shredding contractor must be paid for providing no services.

For the foregoing reasons alone, the TRO is void. An Order that fails to meet any of the essential

requirements of Rule 680 is void. See In re Office of the Atty. Gen., 257 S.W.3d 695, 697 (Tex. 2008).

4. Venue is improper.

Movants contention that venue is proper in accordance with Section 15.002 of the Texas Civil

Practice and Remedies Code is incorrect. Mandatory venue is not asserted, and no facts are pled that

would implicate the Courts of Jefferson County. If the Movants could articulate a lawsuit, that suit would

have to be brought in the county in which all or a substantial part of the events or omission giving rise to

the claim occurred, or the county of the defendants residence at the time the cause of action accrued (if

the defendant is a natural person), or the county of the defendants principal office in this state (if

defendant is not a natural person). See TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE 15.002(a)(1)-(4). The events or

alleged events that give rise to the Application for Temporary Restraining Order took place in Jasper

County. Kirbyville CISD is in Jasper County. All of the Movants and all of the Respondents are located

or reside in Jasper County or Newton County. It is clear error when a trial court makes no effort to follow

the rule regarding venue determination. See, e.g., In re Team Rocket, 256 S.W.3d 257, 262 (Tex. 2008).

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5. No competent evidence supports the TRO.

Movants Application for Temporary Restraining Order is supported only by a brief affidavit of

counsel in the form of a verified pleading. Counsel does not allege (nor can he allege) that he has personal

knowledge of the facts; no person with personal knowledge has offered evidence in support of the motion.

In the context of a request for temporary injunctive relief, a probable right to recovery and probable injury

must be established by competent evidence. Millwrights Local Union No. 2484 v. Rust Engg Co., 433

S.W.2d 683, 686 (Tex. 1968); Armendariz v. Mora, 526 S.W.2d 542, 543 (Tex. 1975). A sworn pleading

does not constitute evidence. Millwrights Local Union No. 2484, 433 S.W.2d at 686; Rogers v. Howell,

592 S.W.2d 402, 403 (Tex. Civ. App.Dallas 1979, writ refd n.r.e.).

No competent evidence supports the suggestion that anyone with the District would destroy, alter

or tamper with the information, records, or equipment subject to the Order. Movants maintained in their

Application that they believe that, in the event this Temporary Restraining Order is not entered, the

documents, materials and tangible items sought to be preserved may be destroyed or otherwise, altered.

First, mere subjective impression or belief is not competent evidence that records or information relating

to the death of Dennis Reeves likely will be altered or destroyed.

The TRO cites no irreparable injury. Irreparable injury is an essential element of an injunction.

There is no specification of what cause of action the evidence to be preserved under the TRO would

support; so, by extension, there is no specification of how the injury would be irreparable.

The TRO is void. An order that fails to meet any of the essential requirements of Rule 680 is

void. See In re Office of the Atty. Gen., 257 S.W.3d 695, 697 (Tex. 2008).

III.
PRAYER

WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, Kirbyville Consolidated Independent School

District, Dr. Thomas A. Wallis, Georgia Sayers, Chad George, Joey Davis, Clint Smith, Amy Fountain,

Marcia Morgan, DWanna Rasnick, and Dustin Rutherford respectfully pray that the Court dismiss this

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case for want of jurisdiction, and alternatively, that it dissolve the subject Temporary Restraining Order.

Respectfully submitted,

POWELL & LEON, LLP

_________________________________
Sara Hardner Leon
SBN: 08980250
115 Wild Basin Road, Suite 106
Austin, Texas 78746
P: 512-494-1177
F: 512-494-1188
sleon@powell-leon.com

John J. Janssen
SBN: 00789402
802 N. Carancahua, Suite 655
P: 361-452-2804
F: 361-452-2743
jjanssen@powell-leon.com

ATTORNEYS FOR KIRBYVILLE


CONSOLIDATED INDEPENDENT
SCHOOL DISTRICT

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I hereby certify that the foregoing Brief in Support of the Plea to the Jurisdiction and Motion to
Dissolve Temporary Restraining Order was served by Electronic Filing E-Service and hand delivery to
the following counsel of record on the 13th day of June, 2017:

Facsimile: (409) 832-9708

_________________________________
Sara Hardner Leon

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