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School board fires teacher arrested this year

A Thomson Elementary school teacher arrested earlier this year has officially been relieved of her duties.

Patricia Cummings, a special education teacher for approximately 30 years, requested a public hearing after she did not receive a renewal of her contract with the McDuffie County School System. The hearing was held July 28 in the Board of Education Central Office with Attorney Bob Knox serving as the hearing officer, Attorney Jack Long representing Ms. Cummings and Attorney Phil Hartley representing the BOE.

Ms. Cummings has not been teaching since her arrest in February on a battery charge involving a 10-year-old student. Her court case is still pending.

At the hearing, Mr. Hartley contended that Ms. Cummings' contract would not have been renewed anyway due to her past performance as an instructor and pattern of similar incidents with other students.

Witnesses included three teachers who were in the hallway at the time of the Feb. 12 incident. In her testimony, Ms. Cummings said she was being attacked and was defending herself.

Debbie Price, the director of student services, and Principal Anita Cummings also were witnesses. They described the teacher's responsibilities, evaluations, and the learning environment in her classroom. Anita Cummings, who is not related to the defendant, was the defense's only witness.

After hearing closing arguments, members of the Board of Education went into executive session before voting not to renew Ms. Cummings' contract.

Web posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009

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