By Blake Spurney
HESSTON — Hesston High School Principal Ty Rhodes has been subject to a criminal investigation after he allegedly threw an aluminum baseball bat through the windshield of a pickup being driven by a high school student Oct. 1, according to the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Sheriff Chad Gay, his office believes the entire episode resulted from what he called a misunderstanding and potentially a case of mistaken identity in the 400 block of South College Drive.
On Sept. 26, according to Gay, Rhodes reported a suspicious vehicle going by his residence.
Gay said Rhodes’s daughters heard somebody hollering from a vehicle, and Hesston police later stopped the vehicle.
“With further investigation, we think it may have been a misunderstanding,” Gay said.
He added that the young males in the pickup didn’t want to talk to police.
Gay said a few days later, at the start of October, a truck went by Rhodes’s residence several times before Rhodes broke the windshield with a baseball bat.
Gay said the City of Hesston requested that the sheriff’s department take the case over, as the two high school boys who were in the pickup have fathers who work for the city, and the city wanted to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Gay said he doubted the windshield cost more than $1,000, which would make any offense of criminal damage to property a misdemeanor.
“The parents, none of them want to pursue charges,” Gay said. “The windshield’s already been taken care of and paid for.”
Gay said Investigator Nate Regier was investigating the incident and that a final report would be sent to the Harvey County Attorney’s office.
“At the time, he didn’t know who was in the vehicle,” he said. “It was unknown to him who was in the vehicle. I think he feels, you know, I know he would handle things differently if he had to do it again.”
As for any other future repercussions, Rhodes was present for part of a Hesston Board of Education meeting Oct. 5, all two hours and 45 minutes of which were conducted in executive session (session shielded from public observation), discussing matters related to district personnel. Following, the board took no action related to Rhodes. It did approve calling an additional meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6, to discuss personnel matters.
Superintendent Ben Proctor provided a short statement after the Monday meeting.
“We are aware of a situation involving an employee of USD 460,” Proctor’s email stated. “We are currently working through the investigation process and are unable to comment further on a personnel matter.”
The Hesston Police Department put out a release Tuesday afternoon, stating that it wouldn’t comment on what it described as a “series of events involving and/or witnessed by students and a USD #460 employee” to maintain the integrity of an ongoing investigation.
Harvey County Now was able reach out to the Rhodes family Monday afternoon and left a message requesting comment for Ty Rhodes. It has not yet been contacted by Rhodes.
More information will be added to this story when it becomes available.