Before March, retired pharmaceutical salesman Richard Harold Reasor’s only brush with the law was a speeding ticket, perhaps two.
The 69-year-old was enjoying a second career as an elementary school teacher aide and officiated at school volleyball matches and area track meets. The 1972 Baylor University graduate also worked on the event staff at his alma mater’s football, baseball and basketball games.
Reasor’s work with children came to an abrupt stop after he was accused of harming an unruly student and arrested, but he has another chance now that a grand jury has declined to pursue a charge against him.
Reasor’s wife and daughter are teachers, but he never really thought much about it being a career path for him. Then eight years ago, he got a job at Woodway Elementary School as a teacher aide, and his second career was launched.
He enjoyed working with the kids, and they seemed to love him. Each year, Reasor helped the fourth-graders build models of the Alamo that they displayed in the school hallway and he presented what he calls his “13 Days of Glory” lesson about the iconic San Antonio mission siege for kids studying Texas history.
When Midway school officials transferred Reasor to Woodgate Intermediate School in October, he was overwhelmed by the emotional displays of the students and teachers he left behind. They wrote letters telling him how much they loved him and would miss him and stood in line for hugs and high-fives when he left.
Reasor became a teacher aide at Woodgate and was assigned to what the district calls the IBIS program, short for Intensive Behavior Intervention and Support, a classroom for students with behavioral problems.
Two weeks after he started his new job, Reasor was asked to escort an 11-year-old student who had been disruptive in class to the “calm room.” There are conflicting stories about what happened next, but an incident ensued, and the 5-foot, 6-inch, 150 pound Reasor and the boy both ended up in a tangle on the floor.
Reasor was fired the next day after Midway school officials took statements from two teachers who said they saw the tussle.
To make matters worse, Reasor was arrested by Hewitt police five months later on a charge of injury to a child, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He spent a night in jail, but worse for Reasor, he had to give up his sports-related officiating and staffing positions because he was precluded from being around children younger than 17 as a condition of his bond.
He was slated to work six track meets this spring, but he had to tell officials he would not be available, he said.
Reasor hired Waco attorney Cody Cleveland, who realized Reasor’s case was not the type that needed to be dragged out because, as Cleveland put it, “Richard’s life was on hold.”
He knew Reasor wanted to clear up the matter quickly with hopes he could get back to doing what he loves, connecting with kids.
Cleveland took a scrapbook filled with pictures of Reasor and school kids and testimonial letters from students, teachers and others who know him to the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office. The letters depicted Reasor has a caring, kind person who would never harm a child intentionally.
Prosecutors presented Reasor’s case last week to a grand jury, which determined there was insufficient evidence to indict him. Likewise, Reasor took his case to the Texas Workforce Commission, which conducted its own investigation and found no misconduct on Reasor’s part and that he was unjustly terminated.
“I think it turned out the way it should have,” Cleveland said. “I commend the DA’s office. Their job is not to just prosecute cases but to seek justice, and I think they took their time and did their due diligence and looked into the facts of the case and they presented the case fairly to the grand jury.
“I also commend the grand jury for looking at the evidence and making the right decision. I think in this instance, the justice system worked as it should and Mr. Reasor is the beneficiary of that.”
According to a Hewitt police arrest affidavit, a Woodgate instructor was outside looking through a window and said he saw Reasor wrap his arms around the 11-year-old boy and force him to the ground. A second educator who was in the classroom stepped in to intervene, the affidavit states.
A school resource officer was called to the room and interviewed the student. The boy said he was in pain from Reasor forcing him to the ground. Police continued to collect witness statements and investigate the incident, according to the affidavit.
“(The officer) then spoke with (the student), and (the student) told (the officer) that Reasor had him on his stomach and had a knee on his back,” the affidavit states. “He advised that Reasor then pulled his arms behind his back. (The student) advised (the officer) that when Reasor had him on the ground it caused him pain.”
Another teacher at the school took out a protective order against the boy after the student reportedly threatened the teacher, Reasor said. Reasor was asked to escort the boy to the calm room. When they got there, Reasor said the boy kicked a desk and it struck him, re-injuring a foot he had been having trouble with.
He saw the boy eyeing a container of sharpened pencils on a desk, and Reasor said he grabbed them just ahead of the lunging student. The boy grabbed a clipboard, and Reasor tried to take it from him, fearing he would use it as a weapon, Reasor said.
While both were struggling over the clipboard, their feet got tangled and they lost their balance and tumbled to the floor. There is no video of the incident, and Reasor denies he put his knee in the boy’s back and pulled his arms.
Now that he is clear of the charges, Reasor becomes emotional when discussing the gratitude he feels for the people who supported him after his firing and arrest.
“It’s a very scary situation, and teachers, I think, go through that every day, trying to work with kids who maybe don’t appreciate what they are trying to do,” Reasor said. “It is pretty scary to know you can have it all taken away in just a heartbeat.
“But you also find so many people who reach out to you and want to help you. I had just an outpouring of people from Baylor and from Woodway Elementary, people I know and people I hadn’t talked to in years who got in touch with me and said they knew me and knew I wouldn’t do that kind of thing. They wanted to know what they could do to help and it meant so much to me.”
Even after he was fired, Reasor was asked to return to Woodway Elementary to present his Alamo program for the fourth grade. Before his arrest, he saw students at Lady Bears basketball games who rushed over to give him hugs and say hello.
“That part of it is really amazing,” he said. “The rest of it, not necessarily.”
Midway schools spokeswoman Traci Marlin said administration thought it “was in the best interest of the students to release” Reasor. She said he is eligible for employment there again, like any candidate with no criminal history.
Hewitt Police Chief Jim Devlin said he is “kind of disappointed” that the grand jury chose to no bill Reasor.
“We felt like the case was pretty strong with two independent witnesses,” he said. “But I don’t know what was presented to the grand jury, so I don’t have the information to support the reason for the no bill.”