Murray Co. teacher accused of hitting special needs student - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Murray Co. teacher accused of hitting special needs student, parents speaking out

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UPDATE:  North Georgia parents are speaking out after a middle school teacher was arrested for hitting a special needs student. 

Deputies say 55-year-old Shari Clanton hit a student at Bagley Middle School May 2, and it was caught on camera. Clanton turned herself in on Friday at the Murray County Sheriff's Office, she's charged with one count of simple battery. 
Parents of students with special needs in Shari Clanton's class say they learned of her arrest on the news several weeks after the incident was first reported to law enforcement. Parents say they were never told the teacher had been replaced and they want to know why. 

" I'm outraged because I don't know anything about what's going on," said parent Nicole Cortez. 

Nicole Cortez says her special needs daughter has been in Shari Clanton's classroom for several years. Deputies say the Principal witnessed her slapping a special needs student during a fire drill. The school's resource officer then reported the assault to the Sheriff that same day.

" I have an 11-year-old still in school so yes anything that is accused, and it is an accusation at this time, it's unnerving," said Sheriff Gary Langford. 

Sheriff Gary Langford notified the GBI and agents learned the incident was caught on school surveillance cameras. Deputies say because of the ongoing investigation, the footage is not yet being released. 

The school system immediately suspended Clanton with pay. A judge set her bond at $500 dollars and Clanton was released from jail.

"We take this very serious, we consider it our duty to protect the children of this community," said Det. Brett Morrison, Murray County Sheriff's Office. " I'd like the community to know the Sheriff's office is in no way included in the process of determining bond." 

Cortez is concerned her daughter Christian, who has Autism and Down Syndrome may have been a victim too. Christian struggles to communicate.  

"Lately I've noticed signs of aggression... there's one thing, she'll take me by the hand and push my head into the corner and it makes me wonder is this going on at school," said Cortez. 

She removed Christian from school after learning Clanton had been arrested and replaced with no word from school administrators.  

 "I had no idea that she had another teacher and with the special needs that she has I need to know these things, of who is taking care of her and  who is taking her to the bathroom," said Cortez. 

She and other parents want answers from the school about why they weren't notified. Murray County School officials tell us they did not notify parents because the GBI asked them not to discuss the case and because it was a personnel matter. 

Officials say they started the termination process, but Clanton's attorney informed them she plans to resign from her position. Our calls to Clanton for comment were not returned. The Sheriff asks anyone with concerns about child abuse to please contact the Sheriff's Dept. 

" We want parents to understand if anything like this ever happened they need to notify a local law enforcement agency, if it's going on we want to know about it," said Sheriff Langford. 

If you have any information that can help investigators, call the Murray County Sheriff's Department at (706) 695-4592.

PREVIOUS STORY: A Murray County teacher is charged with battery after investigators say she was caught on camera hitting a special needs student.

In a release from the George Bureau of Investigation, 55-year-old Shari Clanton, a teacher at Bagley Middle School teacher, is charged with one count of simple battery for the alleged assault on May 2.

The release says the incident was recorded on the school's surveillance cameras.

The Murray County Sheriff's Office asked the GBI to investigate the incident on May 3.

That investigation ended with the arrest of Clanton, who turned herself and was released on a preset bond.

She was employed at Bagley Middle for six years.

Video of the incident will not be released, due to the ongoing investigation. 

Once the investigation is complete, it will be turned over to the DA’s Office for prosecution.

Stay with for updates to this story.

School Patrol

David Carroll covers education news and issues at schools across the Tennessee Valley.


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