Investigation finds instances of abuse at Memphis head start schools

(Source: MGN)
(Source: MGN)(MGN)
Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 5:15 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Administration for Children and Families revealed the results of their investigation of the Shelby County Board of Education Head Start program, revealing some instances of abuse.

the investigation spanned from July 2021 to January 2022, aimed at ensuring performance and compliance standards were being met within the program.

Seven instances were described within the report:

  • On March 3, 2021, a parent reported to a family service worker that their 4-year-old child was hit on the arm by a teacher at the Porter Leath Hanley Head Start. (Memphis-Shelby County Schools says this was later proven unfounded)
  • On April 15, 2021, a parent informed staff that a teacher hit their 3-year-old child on the leg and buttocks at the Porter Leath Hanley Head Start. (Memphis-Shelby County Schools says this was later proven unfounded)
  • On May 13, 2021, a 5-year-old child informed their mother that they were hit on the head with a ruler/yardstick by their teacher when they could not write the letter W at Levi Elementary School Head Start. The program stated that teachers were teaching a unit on measurements at the time. Additionally, the principal of Levi Elementary stated the teacher failed to timely report the incident per the school districts policy. (Memphis-Shelby County Schools says this was later proven unfounded)
  • On September 14, 2021, an incident occurred at Willow Oaks Elementary School Head Start. A teacher admitted she had grabbed a 4-year-old child by the arm when the child did not follow her verbal redirection. A witness observed the teacher grab the child by the wrist, and the child appeared to be walking on his toes at a rapid pace while trying to keep up with his teacher. The Tennessee State Board of Education found the teacher had inappropriate physical contact with a child.
  • On October 21, 2021, an incident occurred at the Hanley Head Start. Two witnesses observed a teacher exhibiting concerning behavior, including speaking with a slurred speech, smelling of alcohol, and appearing unwell. One witness described the teacher as overly loving to children with hugs. A review of the program’s incident report stated that the teacher was removed from the classroom, and medical assistance was called. The responding emergency medical technicians noted the teacher was intoxicated.
  • Also, on October 21, 2021, a parent complaint was submitted at the Douglass Head Start Center. A 4-year-old child told her grandmother that during the week of October 4-8, 2021, a teacher grabbed her by the arm and placed a bug on her. (Memphis-Shelby County Schools says this was later proven unfounded)
  • On January 21, 2022, an incident occurred at the Covington Pike Head Start Center. A teaching assistant reported a teacher responded to a 4-year-old child having a meltdown on the floor by kicking the child in the chest. The teaching assistant also reported that she witnessed this same teacher shaking her fist in an intimidating manner to children who did not know the letters L, M, and N in January 2022. Additionally, on November 16, 2021, the same teacher was issued an oral reprimand by the program after a parent reported concerning aggressive interactions with their child.

Memphis-Shelby County Schools released this statement on the results:

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