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Monroe Co. Substitute Teacher Blacklisted After Making Child Abuse Complaint

9:36 AM, Mar 28, 2013   |    comments
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When a Monroe County substitute teacher reported what she considered child abuse, she didn't think she would lose her job. 

But that's what Kristina Harman, who has been a substitute teacher at TG Scott since November, says happened. 

Her career was short-lived when she reported a teacher for child abuse. She says if she had to do it again, she would and that a child's life is worth more than a paycheck.

On February 7, Harman worked as a pre-k substitute teacher at TG Scott in Monroe County. 

That's when she says she saw another substitute grab a student by the arm.

"She drug him and he caught my chair. And when he caught my chair he slammed to the floor. And when he slammed to the floor he turned back and looked at her and she said, 'get against that wall, boy'," said Harman.

Harman reported that to Fletcher Johnson, the assistant principal, because she considered it child abuse.

"He got the teacher out of the building. He got the child immediately and had him seen by the nurse," she said.

The Monroe County sheriff's incident report said the child appeared to have scratches on his arm and was complaining of a back injury. 

Harman said she frequently went back to work after she made the complaint but then two weeks later after the newspaper picked up her story, she said she was taken off the substitute teacher list at TG Scott. 

"How do you tell someone you have to report child abuse or you're going to jail, but when you report it, you take them off the list," asked Harman.

But another witness was still on it. On March 13th, Harman met with Mike Hickman, the assistant superintendent, to ask why. 

She also recorded the conversation:

Hickman: Substitutes are at-will employees, and we can take them on or off that list if we choose.

Harman: So you decided to take me off then? It had nothing to do with the case?

Hickman: It had something to do with it; not because you reported it. It's because we needed to have everything done and completed before you came back.

Harman: That makes zero sense to me.

Hickman: That's your opinion.

Harman: So that means I go from an $800 check a month to a zero dollar check every time we report abuse in a school?

Hickman: It can be, just depends on the situation.

Superintendent Anthony Pack sent 13WMAZ a statement saying Harman was taken off the list because of quote: "significant differences in reports from various witnesses."

He wrote she was put back on the substitute list when the investigation was finished.

"I know what I saw, and I feel like the evidence reflected my statement," said Harman.

Harman said she's never been notified that she's back on the list for TG Scott. And she's unsatisfied with the answer and outcome. The substitute who allegedly abused the child was not charged.

"There can be different views on what child abuse is. But in my eyes, when I'm working in a school, if you touch another child, I'm going to report it," she says.

Monroe County Investigator, Ben Cook, says the other teacher was not charged because what happened did not meet the legal definition of cruelty to children: "When a person maliciously causes a child excessive physical or mental pain."

Harman withdrew her five-year-old daughter from the Monroe County schools. 

She said she's planning to hire a lawyer to look at her case.

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