Former Texas State University police chief accuses institution of retaliation, Clery law violations

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Laurie Clouse resigned as chief of the Texas State University Police Department in June, following an investigation that said she retaliated against a complaining employee. In her first interview since leaving, Clouse defended her tenure, refuted the findings of the investigation, and said the university retaliated against her for speaking out and raising concerns about continued violations of the Clery Act, which requires public reporting of crimes on campus.

The State of Texas hired the law firm Husch Blackwell LLC to investigate the grievances filed against Clouse in January 2021. The firm produced an investigation report on June 18 recommending that the State of Texas find Clouse liable. retaliation against an employee. Clouse resigned from his post the following day, according to the State of Texas and media reports.

When Texas state officials announced Clouse’s resignation, they made no mention of the allegations against her, the investigation or the law firm’s report, according to Star University reports. The university thanked Clouse for its “wonderful service” and improvements to Cléry Law Compliance, training and diversity, according to a letter reported by Texas Grandstand,.

The state of Texas did not send the investigative report to KXAN until Friday, after months of delays and a decision by the attorney general‘s office that parts of it should be released. Most of the report provided to KXAN has been redacted, including the names of the employees and the person who originally filed the complaint against Clouse.

Clouse said she felt like a whistleblower. When she began raising concerns within the state of Texas about possible violations of the Clery Act, the institution took action against her, she said.

“I was bringing to light violations that could have serious consequences for the institution, and because I brought them to the fore, they made these findings against me that hurt me professionally,” Clouse said.

Clouse said she had never spoken publicly about the investigation report or the issues with the university before, and was not going to until the university released the investigation report. to the media and that KXAN has contacted her for comment.

“I’m going to defend my professional reputation because I don’t have a history of this kind of behavior, and it’s never happened to me before,” Clouse said. “The only reason I’m talking to you now is because they released a report that has my name on it, and I need to be able to defend myself. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have told anyone.

Texas state officials said they are fully investigating all harassment and harassment complaints. They would not comment on personnel matters, but said Clouse’s resignation was unrelated to compliance with the Clery Act.

The university said it did not retaliate against Clouse and disagreed with his statements.

The state of Texas said it recognized shortcomings in its Clery compliance in late 2018, has improved it since then, and now has one of the best Clery programs. from the country. One of the reasons the state of Texas said it hired Clouse was its experience with the Clery Act. The university has also hired two “nationally recognized” campus security firms and created and filled two positions to oversee compliance with the Clery Act, according to the release.

You can read the full State of Texas response to KXAN’s questions here.

“Our guiding priorities at the State of Texas are the safety, security, and well-being of our university community,” according to the university’s statement.

investigation report

At least one employee filed a grievance against Clouse in January, accusing him of unprofessional conduct. The plaintiff alleged that Clouse had retaliated against him almost every day since a complaint was filed, he had become “essentially isolated” and it was “very uncomfortable” to be in the department, according to the report of investigation.

Investigators have drawn up a timeline showing the employee complained about Clouse on January 22, then filed a formal complaint and grievance about Clouse six days later on January 28.

Investigators said Clouse withdrew the complainant employee’s direct report on January 27, then threatened to investigate the employee on January 28 and put the employee on a performance improvement plan on January 29.

The employee filed an additional “grievance supplement” on March 11, alleging continued retaliation by Clouse since the initial complaint.

In his interview with KXAN, Clouse rejected and contradicted these conclusions. She said the university’s human resources department approved the performance improvement plan and it was not disciplinary.

She said the employee was only monitoring employees due to the absence of another employee.

“I just brought those employees back to me, but he maintained the span of control that was shown in the org chart,” Clause said.

“Then the third thing was that I had threatened to investigate him. Well, as the chief of police, when someone breaks the policy, it’s my responsibility to either confirm the violations of the policy, or to exempt that employee.

Clouse also said the finding of retaliation was fundamentally flawed because the employee suffered no harm.

During the investigation, investigators conducted 33 interviews and meetings between mid-February and mid-May. They also received a copy of a secret recording of a conversation made by the complainant employee during a meeting with Clouse.

In response, Clouse told investigators that the grievance against her was “shocking” and that she was “appalled” that an employee recorded it. She told investigators she did not ignore or refuse to speak with the complaining employee, and that she released a performance improvement plan as a tool to stop the ‘saucy comments’, among other reasons. , according to the report.

Investigators said the evidence showed retaliation by Clouse.

“While some of the concerns expressed by Chief Clouse to justify taking these actions may be legitimate, ultimately we believe these are mere pretexts for his true motivation for retaliation,” according to the investigation report. “As such, investigators recommend a statement of responsibility with respect to [the employee’s] complaint of retaliation arising from such unemployment actions.

Clouse said she believed the investigation was a retaliatory measure — the state of Texas’ response to concerns she was raising about the institution’s compliance with the Clery Act and the the school’s Title IX office, which investigates allegations of discrimination and sexual misconduct.

Violations of the Cléry law?

The state of Texas has struggled with Clery Act issues in the past. In 2019, according to Texas Tribune, the university underreported campus sexual assaults in 2016 and 2017, and the The U.S. Department of Education has opened a formal review of the State of Texas’ compliance with the law in November 2019.

Former University of Oregon Police Chief Matthew Carmichael will head the Texas State University Police Department in January 2022. (Texas State University)

Clouse began his tenure at Texas State in this context. the the university hired her in February 2019. Clouse previously served in law enforcement for more than two decades, including with the Wichita Falls Police Department and most recently as Captain and Chief of the University of Washington’s Health Sciences Center. North Texas to Fort Worth.

The Clery Act requires the university to publicly report crimes on campus, and state of texas produces an annual report containing this information.

In the state of Texas, Clouse said a complaint of harassment and harassment — a possible criminal and Title IX-related offense — was reported and summarily dismissed without investigation by the university. Clouse said the Title IX office acknowledged receiving the complaint and said there was gender bias involved and it rose to the level of reporting, “but they did not investigate.”

“I believe it was in violation of Clery, and I spoke about it. I met with the compliance officer and explained that I thought it was a violation. I then spoke to my direct supervisor and told him that I believed the institution was in violation and that I was very concerned as the institution was already under investigation by the Ministry of Education, which is common knowledge,” Clouse said.

Again, closer to the time of her departure, Clouse said she was aware of another instance in which the university failed to properly investigate a situation and violated the Clery Act. She said she also reported this incident to her supervisor. Clouse said she did not know the status of the Department of Education’s investigation.

Clouse said she retired from law enforcement. Since his departure, James Dixon of the UPD has been the leader. In November, the State of Texas announced it would bring Matthew Carmichael, chief of police at the University of Oregon, as chief in January 2022.

Previous Missouri Legislator's Anti-Abortion Bill Mirrors New Texas Law | St. Louis News Headlines
Next Missouri Legislator's Anti-Abortion Bill Reflects New Texas Law