WASHINGTON COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – In a 5 to 4 vote Washington County, Tennessee school board members decided to reinstate elementary school teacher Jennifer Collins.
Collins had been fired for having physical contact with students.
The school leaders said the complaints were about Collins kissing the students on the forehead, hugging them and putting her fingers in their ears.
Since that meeting, people in the community — including parents who have children in the school system — have reached out to administrators, most outraged about the decision to reinstate Collins.
We obtained more than a half a dozen emails sent to school leaders from parents.
One parent wrote “I am disgusted by her actions to students. If it was a male teacher doing the same things, he would be immediately fired. What makes it okay for Ms. Collins to behave that way, after being told it was inappropriate?”
Another email was from current Sulphur Springs Principal Cathy Humphries, she wrote:
“I feel this decision will impede the effectiveness of all administrators to deal with issues of improper conduct and insubordination in the future. It is disheartening that the teacher’s conduct towards the students and the blatant insubordination was disregarded with the reinstatement.”
Another email to Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton said: “After reading the WJHL disclosure of events surrounding Jennifer Collins, we feel that the board might not have the same desire to keep our children safe or even put our children first.”
Halliburton has said all along that she didn’t support the decision to rehire Collins.
“I, too, share the same concerns in fear and anxiety that parents have expressed to us,” Halliburton said. “I want to ensure all of our Washington County parents that the emotional, physical, safety and well being of our children will be my primary consideration as to where to place Ms. Collins.”
News Channel 11 talked with school board member Annette Buchanan who said, “The board has voted and it’s time to move on.”
Buchanan also said that parents do have the right to speak at Thursday’s meeting and they will be heard.
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