Retired Federal Special Agent Steven Menchel: "With the amount of scandals they have there, his time could have been better spent then harassing a citizen."

NICEVILLE — An Okaloosa County citizen spoke at a School Board meeting Monday to report "harassing" text messages received from School District spokesman Henry Kelley.

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Retired Federal Special Agent Steven Menchel said Kelley began sending him a slew of text messages midday Friday regarding Menchel's personal Facebook account. The messages stated Kelley's aggravation for the former agent sharing Daily News articles about the district.

"You keep posting stories, and making it appear The Daily News is telling the truth," Kelley said in one of the messages. "I’m not standing for it anymore. Citizens like you either set the record straight or you perpetuate lies.”

Kelley's statements were sparked by a live tweet from Daily News reporter Annie Blanks, who covered Thursday's School Board workshop. Blanks stated in the tweet that Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson "reiterates at workshop her desire for personal attorney paid for by district."

Jackson tried to argue at Thursday's workshop that it wasn't a personal attorney, but an attorney for the position of Superintendent.

During Kelley and Menchel's text conversation Friday after the meeting, Kelley accused Menchel of posting "every negative thing" about the School District. Kelley sent Menchel a link to a statement Jackson made at the workshop about her legal counsel, which he believed contradicted Blanks' tweet.

"If the Daily News is willing to lie to you about something so simple, maybe you should be asking what else you're being lied to," Kelley said in the text message.

Kelley posted similar statements to his public Facebook account.

For the record, the first sentence in the story on the workshop, published in the Oct. 20 edition of the Daily News, stated: Okaloosa County School District Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson reiterated at Thursday’s School Board workshop a desire for her own attorney to help handle district-related matters.

According to board policy, district employees are prohibited from publishing any material that is unprofessional or unbecoming of a district employee. Types of behaviors include defamatory material and material that otherwise could hold the employee or the District up to ridicule.

The Daily News reached out to Jackson for comment about Kelley's actions, but did not receive a response by print time Tuesday.

'Setting the record straight'

During the heated exchange between Menchel and Kelley on Friday, Menchel said Kelley challenged him to share a Facebook post about Blanks' tweet. 

Menchel did so, but included Kelley's text messages above the Facebook post.

"Mr. Kell(e)y, as I promised I have shared your information but do not agree with you that the paper misrepresented the situation," Menchel said in the post.

On Tuesday, Menchel said by simply sharing news articles, he does not believe it voices his personal opinions.

"I set the record straight," Menchel said Tuesday. "I acknowledged the fact she misstated one word in a tweet, big deal. With the amount of scandals they have there, his time could have been better spent then harassing a citizen."

At Monday's meeting, Menchel turned Kelley's "challenge" towards the School Board, Superintendent and Attorney Jeff McInnis. He asked them, in Kelley's words, to "set the record straight or perpetuate lies." 

Menchel brought forth a series of questions to McInnis and the board Monday, regarding how recent district investigations were handled. He also asked if the Superintendent was aware of Kelley's text messages and if Menchel was Kelley's only target.

Board members, Jackson and McInnis chose not to answer the questions during Monday's meeting.

School Board Chairman Lamar White said to the Daily News on Tuesday that it is up to Kelley's immediate supervisor, Jackson, to determine if "there are any areas of concern that should be addressed with her employee."

Menchel said that now, all thanks to Kelley, he is motivated to be relentless until questions raised at Monday's meeting are answered.

"I don't know what he (Kelley) expects to get out of this," Menchel said Tuesday. "I don't know if he did this to anyone else. It could possibly be considered bullying and harassing. I find it troubling he would spend an hour back and forth with a citizen. It's a waste of tax dollars."