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Teacher loses bid to retain job

Photo by Johnny Jackson 
Felisa Turnipseed appeared during a Clayton County Public Schools employee hearing Tuesday, fighting to retain her job as a teacher at Riverdale Middle School.

Photo by Johnny Jackson Felisa Turnipseed appeared during a Clayton County Public Schools employee hearing Tuesday, fighting to retain her job as a teacher at Riverdale Middle School.

JONESBORO — A three-member panel ruled against a teacher seeking to keep her job Tuesday afternoon during a Clayton County Public Schools employee hearing.

Felisa Turnipseed was apologetic when she asked the tribunal to reject Superintendent Luvenia Jackson’s recommendation to terminate her employment after she acknowledged slapping a student twice across the face in May.

Attorney Winston Denmark represented Clayton County Public Schools at the hearing. Stephanie Banks presided over the hearing.

Turnipseed was a connections math teacher at Riverdale Middle School when the incident occurred May 2. The T-5 certified teacher joined the school faculty Jan. 7 and had been on administrative leave since May 3.

“I did commit the act,” she said. “I realize that I made a mistake.”

She told the panel before deliberations that she believed termination was a “harsh” penalty for her actions. She slapped an eighth-grader who challenged her authority by calling her a liar.

Principal Dr. Adrian Courtland testified in the hearing that he interviewed the 13-year-old student.

“I learned that this student, along with maybe two others, were in a discussion with Ms. Turnipseed,” he said. “He admitted to getting in her face and she slapped him. He asked her why did she slap him and she slapped him a second time.”

Courtland said the boy’s parents met with Turnipseed to get her account. He said they asked him not to report the incident but he told them it was protocol to report the matter to his superiors as well as the Department of Family and Children Services.

“If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would not have done it,” said Turnipseed. “The student came across my desk. It was just a statement to him. I didn’t think past that. Consequently, I am truly sorry. I have sincerely learned from this mishap.”