ALBANY, Ore. — A rumor circulating around South Albany High School sparked a sex abuse investigation involving underage students and the school’s library aide.
Now we’re hearing what students, coworkers and neighbors think about the allegations.
Coworkers of 51-year-old Heidi Hyre at South Albany High School say they’re shocked to hear of the allegations against her. They say she was always friendly with students, but never imagined something like this would happen.
Hyre was arraigned on multiple sex abuse charges including seven felonies.
Police say Hyre exchanged sexually explicit text messages and photos with three South Albany High School students who were only 17-years-old at the time of the alleged incidents.
Police also say Hyre had a sexual encounter with one of the 17-year-old male students off campus.
“I guess the initial reaction is that feeling in your stomach like you’re going to throw up, like that really couldn’t have happened,” said South Albany HS Principal Brent Belveal.
Hyre works as a library aide at South Albany High School.
“She’s very efficient and detail oriented that way, as far as the job’s concerned, but also very engaging with kids,” Belveal said.
The district isn’t aware of any other victims at this time, and it says these allegations are not a reflection of the school.
“I’m concerned for the kids, the victims in this situation. You never know what kind of impact that this kind of thing can have on a student and we want to make sure that they’re taken care of,” Belveal said.
The school has provided councilors for students to talk to.
Some students say Hyre was very popular and they’re surprised by the allegations.
“She’s so nice, she’s such a fun person to be around, and she’s always energetic, always has something fun to do,” said South Albany HS Student Megan Sledge.
Even her neighbors were caught off guard. They say Hyre’s always been very welcoming.
“Well I was shocked at the nature of the crime, and I was shocked that it would be her, because she absolutely does not strike me as that type of person,” said Neighbor Garry Garrett.
This is the second Greater Albany Public Schools employee to be arrested on sex abuse charges involving a student within the past few months.
District administrators say they’ll re-evaluate their sexual conduct education.
“I think we’ll need to go back and look at what the training is, and see how effective it is, and maybe look at something more in depth,” said GAPS Superintendent Maria Delapoer.
Hyre is currently on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.