Update Nov. 17: The EPISD Board of Trustees voted on Nov. 15 to proceed with Steve Clay’s termination. Clay has not been put on administrative leave. He remains in custody.
The El Paso Independent School District is moving to suspend or fire an administrator who was arrested on Thursday for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman.
The EPISD Board of Trustees will vote on the superintendent’s recommendation to either terminate Steve Clay’s contract or suspend him without pay, according to Tuesday’s special board meeting agenda.
A New Mexico federal grand jury indicted Jeffrey Steven Clay on Thursday on one count of kidnapping and one count of transportation for illegal sexual activity. He was subsequently arrested, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico.
Clay has worked at EPISD since 1994, according to his LinkedIn profile. That includes stints as an elementary school teacher and an elementary and intermediate school principal before moving to Central Office in 2006. Since 2016, he has been the director of analytics, strategy, assessment and PEIMS, which is the state’s data management system for schools.
EPISD released a statement that read, in part, that “the current administration was unaware of any pending charges and/or allegations” until contacted by the FBI on Thursday morning. “We understand this is a very public and unsettling situation, rest assured El Paso ISD will take swift employment action.”
EPISD did not respond to a question about Clay’s current employment status.
Clay is accused of offering a woman a ride in El Paso on the night of Aug. 4, 2021, and then driving her across state lines to his home in Anthony, New Mexico, where he handcuffed her and sexually assaulted her, according to a court document. The woman was able to escape from Clay’s car as he drove her home after the assault.
The FBI’s investigation into Clay began in June, during which the FBI learned that he “repeatedly sexually abused a minor … that Clay had close access to from about 2012 to 2014,” according to an agent’s affidavit attached to federal prosecutors’ motion to detain Clay pending trial. The teenager reported the sexual abuse in 2014 but recanted “because of threats made by Clay,” the affidavit states. It also alleges he subsequently raped her in 2021.
The federal judge overseeing the case has not yet ruled on the motion to have Clay detained until trial, according to court records.
While principal of MacArthur Intermediate School, Clay was arrested in 2005 for soliciting prostitution, but the charge was dismissed in 2006 because of insufficient evidence, according to media reports at the time. The reports indicate that EPISD had placed him on paid leave pending an internal investigation. His LinkedIn profile shows that in June 2006 he was moved from the campus to Central Office, where he worked as director of data mining for eight years.
Clay holds a valid teaching license, according to Texas Education Agency records.
Per district policy, the school board can terminate an employee’s contract if the employee is formally charged with a felony, a crime involving “moral turpitude” or a crime involving a controlled substance.
The FBI is seeking other potential victims in the case and anyone with information is asked to contact the agency at 1-800-225-5324.