A grievance hearing at the Hope School Board meeting Monday night had the teacher who brought the grievance to the board, the mother of the child who was the center of the incident, and a school counselor all speaking to the board.
Lynn House, who is a kindergarten teacher at Clinton Primary School, was disciplined by Superintendent Bobby Hart after an incident which occurred August 22, 2012, at Clinton Primary.
“We have the children sit with their legs criss-crossed so that no one will trip over their legs, and that's what I was trying to do was to get the five-year-old to cross his legs,” House said. “I told him three times to cross his legs and he did not do as I instructed. I then took my foot and nudged his foot to get him to cross his legs.
“I have taught school in the Hope School District for 24 years and I have enjoyed my job,” she said. “I tapped his foot with my foot, and the mother, who was in the room, interpreted that as a kick. I would never hurt any child, I love teaching.”
“Based on the investigation of Division of Child and Family Services, a finding of child maltreatment was entered against Teresa Lynn House,” according to a final order of the Department of Human Services presented at the meeting.
House filed a request for an administrative hearing with the Office of Appeals and Hearings of DHS, and a hearing was held on January 8, 2013.
The judge, Tracy F. Bagwell, who is an Administrative Law Judge, said, in his findings, “I find that there is insufficient evidence after viewing the video several times that Ms. House kicked (the child). In the video, Ms. House tapped (the child) on the foot with her foot two times. Ms. Glanton was standing next to Ms. House when this happened and she testified that Ms. House did not kick (the child), but rather, tapped his foot a couple of times to get him to cross his legs as instructed. I find that there was no kick of (the child) by Ms. House.”
“Teresa Lynn House's name shall not be placed on the Child Maltreatment Central Registry insofar as the entry pertains to the child maltreatment report, Referral #1594224,” the judge continues in his ruling.
The Arkansas Professional Licensure Standards Board, in a letter to Ms. House, stated that “The Arkansas Professional Licensure Standards Board of Ethics Subcommittee voted unanimously on March 8, 2013, that there was not evidence to substantiate a Reasonable Belief that you violated Standard 1 of the Code of Ethics for Arkansas educators. The Subcommittee considered the information gathered during the investigation in reaching its determination.”
The original grievance was that House was suspended without pay due to CPS Principal Kendal Montgomery's actions.
Page 2 of 2 - “Mrs. Montgomery turned me over to DHS and Ethics Board and as a result Mr. Hart suspended me without pay, which is against our personnel policy,” House wrote in the grievance.
“By law, I must report incidents to DHS when warranted,” Montgomery responded in the grievance.
“ASBA Attorney Gould suggested and recommended a referral to the Arkansas State Ethics Board. The evidence was turned over to Mr. Bobby Hart,” Montgomery stated in her documentation.
Hart's response to House's Level 2 Grievance was: “Your level two grievance, received March 13, 2013, is not grieveable, in that the administrative response to your misconduct was lawful and appropriate. Your initial grievance dated 3-13-13 stated, 'Mrs. Montgomery turned me over to DHS and Ethics board and as a result Mr. Hart suspended me without pay which is against our personnel policy.' After investigating the incident and reviewing the video, Mrs. Montgomery by law was required to report her findings. (AR Code 12-18-103)”
When House was near the end of her presentation, she said, “I would like to have my attorney fees reimbursed, I would like to have my five days of pay reinstated, and I would like to have any negative reports and findings taken off my personnel record, because I was found not guilty by the Appeals Board and by the Ethics Board.”
The room was packed with supporters of House, and one of her co-workers spoke about House.
“If we can't touch kids, not even hold their hand, we can't have school, ya'll,” Jimmy Don Hill, CPS counselor, said. “I have worked with Lynn and she is good with children and she loves her students.”
The board voted “yes” to the fact that House should receive her pay for the five days of suspension, and that her records should be expunged of all negative connotations in reference to the incident. However, the board did not award any reimbursement for attorney fees.
The child's mother spoke to the board.
“I was right there in the room,” she said. “I saw the teacher kick my child and after that happened, I took him out of the room.”