Paid leave since April for BISD employee with troubled history

Ashley Bowden mugshot

An Examiner investigation has revealed that the Beaumont Independent School District has been paying administrative leave to a counseling clerk since April, although district officials have not answered queries as to why an at-will employee has been afforded concessions typically reserved for contract employees.

And four months later, an investigation into the actions that earned the school district staffer her time away from the office has not yet been finalized.

Ashley Bowden, a counseling clerk at BISD’s South Park Middle School, was hired at the school district in 2011, but her tenure at BISD might soon come to an end should Human Resources Director Dwaine Augustine determine that the district has paid enough salary to an employee not doing any work for the paycheck. Augustine has recently been promoted to assistant superintendent for secondary schools but is still currently heading the HR department.

According to a concerned parent at South Park, Bowden’s administrative leave began in the spring when the counseling clerk shouted profanities at a middle school student in front of other students and staff. Campus principal Sharon Hendrix said she could not answer personnel questions and referred queries back to BISD administration. As of press time, officials did not answer questions, posed in e-mails and phone calls.

Should the parent’s concerns about Bowden be verified, it would not be the first time she was accused of actions unbecoming an educator since being employed at BISD. In May 2013, Bowden was arrested on multiple charges after a police pursuit with the Beaumont Police Department.

In 2013, according to then-BPD Sgt. Rob Flores, who is now the chief of police for the BISD PD, Officer Joshua Jackson reported Bowden was driving at a high rate of speed when he signaled with his overhead lights, indicating she should stop. Examiner archives reveal that the officer reported Bowden continued to drive and made a couple of turns as he followed her. Once she finally stopped in the 200 block of East Alma Street in Beaumont, Bowden allegedly exited the vehicle and approached the officer in a “belligerent” manner, Flores said in 2013. At that point, police said, Bowden went back to the car and proceeded to open the door to the backseat. The officer reported that because he was unsure of why she was reaching into the back of the car and because she was not following his instructions, he feared for his safety and took her to the ground to restrain her, placing her in handcuffs. Flores said at that point, the officer observed an unsecured child lying across the back seat of the vehicle.

At the time of the incident, Bowden was arrested for resisting arrest/search, failure to identify, reckless driving and endangering a child. That last charge was reduced to driving with an unsecured child and, ultimately, the entire case went stale with no criminal prosecution.

But that wasn’t Bowden’s first brush with the law – and it wasn’t the last. As reported with Bowden’s 2013 incident, a database search uncovered a drug-related arrest Feb. 21, 2011. Bowden pleaded “no contest” to Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana charges. She paid a $200 fine and received six months deferred adjudication probation, which she completed without further incident, according to the database.

Then, while on paid administrative leave from BISD, Bowden was again arrested – this time in Louisiana, where she was placed on hold without bail for another agency.

How long Bowden will be on paid leave has yet to be determined, but as of Aug. 15, Bowden was still on the payroll. Human Resources director Augustine reported that only one other employee is on administrative leave from the district.

 

Sharon Brooks contributed to the article.

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