While many teenagers dream of unwrapping gaming systems and new phones on Christmas Day, three Wharton ISD seniors pray for vindication from felony charges.
Anitra Myers, mother to Allyn Perez, feels that inconsistencies within the investigation following a Friday night football halftime incident have led to her son and two others being wrongfully charged, and their academic future in jeopardy.
“This is not right,” Myers told The County Gin. “I have tried and tried to get these kids’ side of the story out, but have had no luck. These boys were defending a fellow football player from being attacked by coaches.”
The incident according to the accused
“This all started over a cellphone,” Myers told The Gin. “There was a student that refused to turn over a cellphone during halftime of the Oct. 8th Wharton Tiger football game.”
Myers says that the student-athlete refused requests made by the coaching staff to turn over his phone, and one of the accused tried to convince that student to comply before coaches instigated an altercation.
“Omarian Marks went to the player and said, ‘just put the phone in the bag’, and things along the line of, ‘it’s not worth it’ and ‘just give it to him,’” Myers recounted her son’s account.
“You had the player who wouldn’t give over his phone allegedly pushing Coach Timothy Chandler to get him away from him, and, [Chandler] allegedly pushing him back until his brother, Marcus Chandler, pinned the student against the wall with his hands just below his neck,” Myers said.
At that moment, Myers said, a group of football players ran over to break up the altercation, attempting to separate the coach and the student back.
“Coach Jayden Jennings ran over as well and that’s when the instigating started,” she said.
“Then, statements were made like, ‘Y’all better come get your boy,’ referring to the student that wouldn’t give over the phone, ‘before Chandler f*** him up.’”
That’s when she said chaos broke out in the room as students and coaching staff continued the attempt to separate the two parties.
“My son said everyone was falling over each other. There weren’t punches being thrown, but bodies were falling over one another in an attempt to get the coach out of that kid’s face and free him from being pinned against the wall,” Myers said.
After everyone regained composure, and when players began returning to the field, the parents were still left in the dark about the incident.
“It wasn’t until I noticed several players were slow come out on the field that I inquired about what took place,” Myers said. “After the game as parents were waiting outside of the field house is when I first heard about what took place.”
At that time, the story being told to the parents was that two students had an altercation and a coach was assaulted.
“Because it was taking so long for the kids to come out, I asked if my son was involved”, she said. “I was told, ‘Oh no! Allyn didn’t have anything to do with it, we’re just questioning all of the players.’”
When the players and coaches were released, Myers said, the coaches were downplaying what took place, stating, “They said there were two players that started a fight, but it was all under control. And that’s when my son gave me a glimpse of what really took place.”
She continued, “[Allyn] told me in front of the coaches, ‘No. That is not what happened. The coaches were trying to fight a student and everyone had to break it up. They aren’t telling you what really happened.’”
The following Monday morning, Myers said she received a call from the high school principal, Richard Chandler, informing her that Allyn was implicated in the situation and was suspended.
Following a three day suspension, Allyn was placed in the district’s disciplinary alternative schooling program.
Myers said she decided to take matters into her own hands and began conducting her own investigation.
Inconsistencies and changes in statements
“The person that was allegedly assaulted was [former] Coach Jayden Jennings,” Myers told The Gin. “His story changed so many times. [Jennings] would tell his class multiple stories about the incident and saying, ‘Nothing happened students just fell on top of him during the altercation causing him to get bruised,’ and ‘I’m fixing to get paid.’
Myers has hired an attorney and private investigator on behalf of her son.
Though every piece of evidence proving the accused innocence was turned over to the district, felony warrants for the assault of a public servant were issued for her son Allyn Perez, 17, and Omarian Dpree Marks, 17, and Jalik Versean Knight, 17.
“Then, I find out that Jennings resigned,” Myers said. “What I can’t understand is how I was able to collect so many accounts, recordings and highlight major flaws within this investigation, but the district still decides to charge these kids, but not the coaches that instigated this entire mess.”
Myers says that the district is trying to ‘save face’ by throwing her son under the bus.
This follows a slew of unrelated incidents, which has led the community to call for disciplinary reform.
“Where are the charges for the coaching staff verbally and physically assaulting these players,” she asked. “Why are these kid’s futures being sacrificed for the district to save face for staffing issues, and covering up unqualified individuals in staffing positions?”
Myers, along with the families of Omarian and Jalik, have filed grievances through the district’s appeal process, and all are currently awaiting a decision on a level two appeal.
If denied, the next step is a third level appeal before the school board and superintendent.
The County Gin has made several attempts to request public records of the investigation, however, the district has not provided any of the requested documents.
As of now, the three students remain in the district’s alternative education placement program, and await a decision from the district’s appeal process or a future trial.
“We just pray that the truth comes out and these charges are dropped,” Myers said. “My son is facing felony charges because the district needed a scapegoat, and his future rests in the same hands that threw him under that bus.”
While we have not received a confirmed resignation date from WISD, Jayden Jennings and Marcus Chandler are no longer employed by the district.
Update on level 2 appeal for Allyn Perez:
On Wednesday, Dec. 8, Myers received the following letter notifying her that the evidence and recordings she brought to the district’s attention will be handled by the WISD administration.
Myers also received notification that her appeal was denied and will move on to a level 3 appeal before the board of trustees if she so chooses.