- Associated Press - Friday, October 14, 2016

GREENVILLE, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi Department of Education has filed charges to suspend or revoke the license of a former Greenville High School teacher shown in a video dragging a student by her hair across the floor.

State officials confirmed the action Friday, a day after Greenville’s school board put Superintendent Leeson Taylor II on paid leave while investigations into the incident continued.

The conduct exploded into view last week after a student’s video was posted on Facebook by another student’s mother, garnering millions of viewings.

A charge filed Monday by an investigator in the state’s Office of Educator Misconduct accusing Linda Winters-Johnson of “grabbing, hitting in the head and dragging of a special needs student during P.E. class at Greenville High School.” The charge says the incident took place “on or about September 21.”

State Department of Education spokeswoman Patrice Guilfoyle said Friday that a Nov. 4 hearing is scheduled for Winters-Johnson before the state licensure commission. It’s unclear if she has a lawyer to speak for her. The commission would decide whether to suspend or revoke her special education teaching license , which is good through June 30, 2019.

Board members say Winters-Johnson is no longer teaching in the school district, but won’t say if she was fired or resigned.

Police have also said they are investigating, but have filed no charges.

Two videos of the scene prompted public outcry against the 5,300-student district, which has struggled with poor academic performance. The superintendent before Taylor, Harvey Franklin , is serving a six-year federal prison term for taking bribes from a vendor.

Board president Loretta M. Shannon told The Delta Democrat-Times (https://bit.ly/2e4vaTP) that it was best to have Taylor away from his job while Greenville attorney Tonya Franklin investigates on behalf of the board. Shannon said the board expects Franklin’s report in about a week, and will consider other disciplinary actions then.

“The board asks for the public’s patience as the investigation is conducted,” Shannon said. “We want to ensure that we have a complete picture and an unbiased assessment of what occurred before we take action. But the board is taking this matter very seriously.”

Another meeting was set for 5 p.m. Monday.

The board named Janice Monroe as acting superintendent. Monroe, a former superintendent in Leland, is the Greenville district’s director of special services

Debra White, who leads a group that has been critical of the district’s administration, applauded Taylor’s suspension.

“I think that tonight has been the beginning of justice,” said White, president of Save Our Children. “I think they are on the right road to much needed restructuring. This is the beginning of a brighter future for our children in the Greenville Public School District. I feel like I have been vindicated or something. Justice has really been served.”


Information from: Delta Democrat-Times, https://www.ddtonline.com

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