Manor ISD selects new leader for police force, once accused of sexual harassing fellow officer

Education

MANOR, Texas (KXAN) — The Manor Independent School District has selected a temporary leader for the recently-formed police department.

Henry Porretto was hired Monday to serve as the Director of Safety and Security, a temporary position the district said was created to satisfy Texas state regulations and concludes on July 30.

This comes after the district’s Board of Trustees terminated the contract of former Police Chief Shane Sexton for improperly donating used cell phones to a local women’s domestic violence shelter. It’s an allegation which Sexton disagrees with, claiming he’s provided the district credible evidence the phones came at no cost to MISD and were no longer being used by officers.

Reacting to the district’s latest hire, some parents and community members have concerns about an allegation made during Porretto’s time as a police chief in Galveston, Texas.

Porretto, a 35-year police veteran, served as chief for Galveston Police from 2011 to 2015, Texas Commission on Law Enforcement records show. During that time, a subordinate officer filed an official complaint against him toward the end of his tenure, alleging that he requested sexual favors from her and discriminated against her when she refused.

The attorney representing the female officer told KXAN no criminal charges were ever filed, and the disagreement was settled outside of court. However, Porretto resigned from his role as chief in Galveston and took on an interim chief role in the Mathis Police Department outside Corpus Christi.

Mathis City Manager Michael Barrera spoke to KXAN and vouched for Porretto. Barrera credits him for turning the city department around during a “time of turmoil.” Barerra said he was fully aware of the accusations made against Porretto in Galveston when he was hired and would recommend him to lead any department to this day.

“I interviewed him, talked to him a couple of times. He told me his past history and the circumstances surrounding his resignation with Galveston, and we brought him on board,” Barerra said. “He is a good man. He came in here in some very trying times for our city.”

Manor ISD said it followed its standard Texas Association of School Boards’ (TASB) best practices when hiring Porretto, and that all references provided positive remarks. None of the references provided indicated any complaints or concerns.

However, not everyone in the community is pleased with Manor ISD’s hire.

In a letter directed to Manor ISD board members, one parent wrote, “with this new interim chief hire… you made a decision allowing an accused sexual predator around our children and crossed your fingers hoping we would not pay attention.”

The letter goes on, “you need to make your next move, your best move. Get rid of him or we will! We know our power, and we are done allowing decisions to be made that are not in the best interest of our children.”

Sarah McRee, a police officer with the Concordia University Police, once served under former MISD Police Chief Sexton. She said she has seen sexual harassment and discrimination occur in police departments and would not feel comfortable having someone like Porretto leading her everyday.

“That not a moral or ethic level that any police officer, let alone a chief or a chief in a school district, should be allowed to have,” McRee said. “If he is soliciting acts from a grown woman that is a police officer herself, to me, my concern would be him around children.”

Attempts to speak with Porretto were not immediately returned. Instead, Porretto listed different awards and accomplishments he has received to reflect his 35+ years of service, including letters of commendation, Texas Municipal league awards and membership to various, diverse organizations.

Reach KXAN’s Education Reporter Alex Caprariello by email at alexc@kxan.com or by phone at 512-703-5365, or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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