A state court judge Wednesday granted a warrant request against a Liberty Elementary School second-grade teacher who allegedly tipped over a student’s desk Sept. 21.
Parents Rebecca McGee and Casey Nash on Tuesday made their cases for pursuing charges against veteran teacher Janice Hall before Judge Leon Braun.
Braun accepted warrant requests from Nash for simple battery and disorderly conduct, but denied McGee’s disorderly conduct warrant request.
Nash testified that her 7-year-old daughter, a student in Hall’s class, came home with bruises and a bad behavior report Sept. 21.
The child reported that Hall became angry when she did not produce an assignment, and Hall reportedly tipped the student’s desk, causing two text books to fall on the girl’s legs, Nash said.
Liberty Elementary School Principal Chris Anderson said the parent reported the incident to the Midway Police Department on Sept. 23, and the parent notified the school Sept. 24.
Representing Hall, attorney Tyler Randolph, with Arnold, Stafford & Randolph, argued that the claims against her were not criminal in nature and should be handled within the school system or as a civil matter.
Typically, warrant requests are argued in magistrate court, but Liberty County Chief Magistrate Melinda Anderson said a statute requires warrants for teachers to be granted through state, superior or probate courts.
From that point, the case is treated like a typical criminal case, and the sheriff’s office will seek to arrest Hall.
Hall has been on paid administrative leave since the incident became known.
In the hearing Tuesday, Hall’s account included more detail than Nash’s.
Hall said the student had several assignments missing, and that neither she nor the student could get items out of the student’s desk because it was “simply crammed full” of books and papers.
Hall decided to lean the desk over and slide the contents out, she said.
“It was the end of the nine weeks, and I needed to get grades for my children,” Hall said.
Randolph presented photos of the classroom. Hall said the student had moved away from the desk before Hall tipped it over to get the contents out.
“I would never intentionally hurt my children,” she added.
Randolph also called into question Nash’s account of her daughter’s bruises and whether such injuries could be caused by books sliding down a decline with an estimated four-inch drop.
Though the student was moved to another class, Nash said in an interview that she felt compelled to press charges after she heard that the teacher was on paid administrative leave and faced a possible suspension.
“Either she’s put in jail for her actions or she loses her teaching certificate, that’s my main goal,” Nash told the Courier. “I don’t want her to hurt anybody else, … children are so delicate in the mind that you shouldn’t do that to a child in the first place.”
In court, Nash testified that she had no prior issues with the teacher and had not spoken with Hall about the incident.
Randolph asked Nash about a television interview she gave to WSAV-TV around Sept. 27, an element he tied into his closing argument to reiterate that Nash had not addressed the issue with the teacher.
The other warrant request from McGee was for a lesser charge of disorderly conduct.
McGee said her son, also in Hall’s second-grade class, had witnessed the desk tipping and had prior unpleasant interactions with the teacher. McGee said she felt the teacher bullied students, but there is no statute for bullying.