HISD releases probe report on ex-Yates HS principal
HOUSTON Ronald Mumphery retired at the end of September, and now we have the details of the investigation focused on him. In September, HISD said he was removed from campus because of professional misconduct. Now we know the misconduct was sexual in nature. One alleged victim told an investigation that what happened to her still haunts her every day. It took only 10 days from the date HISD received an anonymous letter for then-Yates principal Ronald Mumphery to retire. The investigation had barely been opened when he suddenly left the school. The letter's first line reads, "There is a deep secret that needs to be shared," and raised allegations that Mumphery, a 30-year teacher and administrator with HISD, had inappropriately touched three women, including a 17-year-old cheerleader. After a month-long investigation, the district concluded, "It is more likely than not Mumphery established a pattern of engaging in inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature with subordinates." It also confirmed his conduct toward the 17-year-old was "unacceptable and of a sexual nature." "It opens them to a floodgate of lawsuits," KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy said. According to the confidential report now made public, the district interviewed a half-dozen women whose names are being withheld. The incident with the cheerleader happened in 1984 when Mumphery was a Yates teacher and coach. She told the investigator he "grabbed her arm, pulled her to him and stuck his tongue in her ear." Another woman told the district if you were "good," you earned overtime pay. And those who Mumphery favored were called "Mumphery's girls." One woman interviewed denied having any inappropriate contact with him. No one answered at Mumphery's home in northwest Harris County Monday, and he did not return our call either. HISD says the police investigation is still ongoing. The report does detail previous accusations, and that may be a problem, says Androphy. "If they knew or they had an inkling that there was a problem before and they hushed it up or they suppressed it in some way or they settled with people confidentially and without warning other people that have worked for him, that could be a lot of problems for the school district," Androphy said. None of the alleged victims mentioned in the report are current Yates High School students. Mumphery retired before HISD investigators could talk to him. It remains unclear whether any information detailed in the report could lead to criminal charges against Mumphery because the case is still being investigated.