A Dougherty County elementary school teacher who slapped a student will keep her job, but she'll be suspended for 30 days. After watching video of the incident and hearing testimony, a panel of four school board members voted against the superintendent's recommendation to fire the teacher.
The surveillance video from the Turner Elementary School gymnasium shows PE teacher Tracy Drayton, pulling a kindergartner by her arm across the gym. Next you could see on the far right side of the screen, Drayton going up to the student and slapping her.
A panel of school board members ultimately sided with the Turner Elementary School principal and voted unanimously to suspend Drayton for 30 days without pay. She must also attend an anger management course and will be reassigned to another school and placed on probation.
"She was wrong for putting her hands on the student, pulling the student. For that, we agreed with the recommendation of the principal who knows this person," said Bush.
The video shown in the hearing apparently prompted Superintendent Joshua Murfree to change his mind and recommend Drayton be terminated.
"There's nothing in the law that prohibits him from changing his mind after he's discussed something with somebody," said school board attorney Flin Coleman. "And that's what he evidently testified that he did in this case. He initially said one thing and then changed his mind to another."
Turner principal Gail Solomon testified that Drayton has been with the school system for 22 years and has a good personnel file, with no other incidents.
She also testified that the child Drayton struck is known to have outbursts. "She does have some behavior issues. She has tantrums."
The panel deliberated for less than thirty minutes before making their decision.
"What transpired was reprehensible," said Bush. "We don't condone our employees to pull on students. 22 years is a long time and predicated upon the weight of the evidence we concurred unanimously with the principal's recommendation."
A teary-eyed Drayton thanked her attorney, before hugging school board members and quickly making her way out the door, with no comment.
"Ms. Drayton is pleased with the outcome today. We believe the school board made a just decision," said Attorney Howard Stiller.
Now the superintendent must recommend where Drayton will go back work.
The incident happened October 2nd. Drayton was arrested and charged with battery. The District Attorney's office is now handling that criminal case.
Board members James Bush, Milton Griffin, Velvet Riggins, and Carol Tharin sat on the panel that heard the case.