Parents address Washington Co. BOE after controversial decision to reinstate teacher

WASHINGTON COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Several parents who have children in the Washington County, Tenn. school system, as well as other community members, addressed the Washington County Board of Education at their meeting Thursday to voice their concern about the recent reinstatement of a county elementary school teacher.

Last month, the school board voted to reinstate Gray Elementary School teacher Jennifer Collins after she was fired in November, following allegations of physical contact with students.

We reported earlier this week that community members — including parents who have children in the school system — have reached out to administrators by email, most outraged about the decision to reinstate Collins.

News Channel 11 also obtained more than a half a dozen emails sent to school leaders from parents.

One by one parents and concerned citizens addressed the board bringing up things like the negative impact this decision has had on students and teachers and how if this had been a male teacher and a female student would their vote have been the same.

We also heard from Rebecca Weems, a Gray School teacher and parent who says Jennifer Collins made her son uncomfortable.

“You’re also negating the experience my son had, you have negated his words, you have negated his tears, you have negated his feelings, you have negated him,” Weems said.

Weems went on to say that there has been backlash on her and her son and she wants to lead by example and will not let him think that an authority figure can make him uncomfortable. Another parent said this was a monumental mistake and he wants the board to reconsider.

“The actions of this board make it abundantly clear that the safety and well being of our children are not their primary concern, there’s no other way this action can be interpreted,” Dwight Jenkins said.

A parent who says she still has a child in kindergarten believes Collins did not have any perverted or malicious intentions but she did act unwisely.

After hearing from the community, board member Todd Ganger asked if the board could take another vote to rescind last month’s motion. He was told it wasn’t on the agenda and someone who voted to have Collins reinstated would have to make a motion for that change and that didn’t happen.

As of right now Collins will be reinstated next school year. It is up to Director of Schools, Kimber Halliburton to decide where she’s placed.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.


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