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Ex-teacher charged with hitting student

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BY AMELIA HARPER AND LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writers

Sunday, January 27, 2019

A former Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools teacher will appear in court Monday at the Rocky Mount Judicial Center to face charges of assault in connection with an incident that happened in her classroom in April 2018.

Jamie Dunn, 35, of Spring Hope, is charged with simple assault. She's accused of using a closed fist to hit a 15-year-old female student on the arm on April 30 at Rocky Mount Middle School, according to her arrest warrant.

School district officials confirmed that Dunn was teaching English/Language Arts at the school last year. Dunn taught in the school district for more than 11 years.

Rocky Mount police Senior Officer Vickey Hussey, the school resource officer at Rocky Mount Middle School at the time of the incident, filed an initial report with Cpl. T.C. Wilder, who conducted the investigation, according to court information. Wilder issued a criminal summons to Dunn for simple assault, said Sgt. Brad Summerlin, public information officer for the Rocky Mount Police Department.

"She was not arrested or booked into jail," Summerlin said. 

Dunn has waived her right to council and could not be reached for comment.

The student's mother, Kisha Cutler, told the Telegram that she doesn't know whether race played a part in the situation, but she feels her daughter was discriminated against because of her developmental disability. Dunn is white, Cutler and her daughter are black.

Cutler said that prior to the alleged assault, Dunn had called her daughter "fat" and slammed a door in her face. Cutler also shared text messages with the Telegram that she said were screenshots of messages on Dunn’s phone near the time of the attack. The messages mock the student’s coursework during a discussion with another teacher.

When school district officials were asked if such actions were in line with school policy, they would not respond directly but instead referred the Telegram to the exhaustive list of school policies.

“Professional behavior of employees is stated in various personnel policies. The board's personnel policies can be accessed at this weblink: https://boardpolicyonline.com/?b=nash_rocky_mount,” school district Chief Communications Officer Patricia Hollingsworth stated in an email.

The school district also would not reveal if any disciplinary actions were taken against Dunn, citing personnel privacy laws.

Dunn is no longer employed by the school, Hollingsworth said.

Dunn was hired in August 2006 and left the school district on May 24, 2018, before the end of the school year and roughly three weeks after the alleged assault.

Cutler said she was surprised to learn that Dunn is no longer working with the school. Her attempts to gather information about the resolution of the incident have gone unanswered by school district officials, she said.

While Cutler said she is disturbed by what happened to her daughter, she feels the situation could have been avoided if her daughter’s special needs had been addressed earlier. She said she told school officials her daughter needed special attention, but she was ignored.

"I have been asking since April and they finally placed her in June in a plan for ADHD," Cutler said.

ADHD — attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — is a chronic condition including attention difficulty, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

"I believe something needs to be done in the Nash-Rocky Mount school system to help children with hidden disabilities such as ADHD," Cutler said. "The proper programs should be put in place such as 504 and IEPs."

Both IED — Individualized Education Programs — and 504 plans can offer formal help for students with learning and attention issues, according to the state Department of Public Instruction.

"I knew nothing about these programs that were supposed to be in place for my daughter until this all happened," Cutler said. "I want justice to be served and no other children to be treated like this."

The school district would not comment on the matter.

“This school system is unable to share confidential student information, which is protected by both federal and state law,” Hollingsworth said.

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