MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Education shut down its review of a case surrounding a student allegedly being assaulted by her teacher in Memphis.
Officials explained why, but the child’s family is frustrated by the lack of answers.
In February, 5-year-old Hailey Turner told Cummings Elementary School her kindergarten teacher Tierra Lewis hit her in the face with a ruler. Shelby County Schools officials said this case was "an allegation of overly aggressive use of force with a student."
But it is no longer under investigation by TDOE.
The school district completed its part of the investigation in February and then handed it over to the state for review. One report said an adult in the school heard the “POP” sound of Lewis hitting the student.
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“I actually cried because she had a big bruise around her eye,” said Ciara Morgan, Turner’s mother.
The paperwork shows Lewis denied the entire incident. An SCS labor relations advisor wrote to Lewis: “I do not find that you were being honest.”
Officials removed Lewis from the classroom for six days and suspended her without pay for two – then welcomed her back.
While she continued to teach at the school, TDOE reviewed the case. It was working to determine whether to suspend, revoke or take no action against Lewis’ teaching permit. During that review, her permit expired on the last day of June.
“Since Ms. Lewis does not currently hold a license or permit, the state board cannot take further action at this time,” according to a release from TDOE.
If Lewis applies for a permit renewal or permanent license in Tennessee, the state board will then continue the review process. However, if she applies for a license in another state, that agency will not know about the allegations.
If the Tennessee board was able to finish its review, the report would be passed onto a national database for marks against a teacher’s license. But since no action was taken, there is nothing to report.
If Lewis applies for a license in another state, she may be asked if she has ever been reported for misconduct, but there would be no proof of it in the national database.
The 5-year-old girl's family removed her from Cummings and is working to take legal action against SCS.
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