Jackson County

Teacher who mistreated a disabled student did not have Mississippi teaching license revoked

A St. Martin Middle School special education teacher caught on tape mistreating a disabled girl did not have her teacher's license revoked, a state official confirmed.

In fact, teacher Kerri Anne Nettles is no longer a certified teacher in Mississippi, but only because she let her certification expire in 2016, said Mississippi Department of Education spokesperson Patrice Guilfoyle.

Nettles could have followed procedural requirements, such as the completion of continuing education courses, to get her license reinstated to teach again.

MDE had no knowledge of the incident involving Nettles, school bus driver Antioinette Jane Raymond and a 14-year-old disabled student until the Sun Herald broke a story last week. The coverage included the exclusive release of surveillance footage documenting the actions taken against the girl.

The state agency did not know what happened because the Jackson County School District failed to report it despite a mandate to do so.

MDE can only revoke a teacher's license if they have a felony conviction, but even then the teacher could ultimately regain a teaching certificate and go back to work instructing students.

Before going to work in St. Martin, Nettles taught in the Ocean Springs School District, Superintendent Bonita Coleman said. The first time she went to work in Ocean Springs, she stayed on the job from August 2006 through January 2009, but then resigned.

She went back to work in Ocean Springs schools from January 2011 through May 2014, and she resigned again.

In the surveillance footage from the St. Martin incident, Nettles is heard threatening to put the girl off the bus to walk home during a field trip. She also yells at the child to shut up before she fetches a towel off the floor and stuffs it in her mouth. That happened on two occasions, in 2014 and 2015.

In a civil complaint, Nettles also is accused of stuffing a rag in the girl's mouth and shutting her up in a closet.

In other footage, Raymond is heard threatening to take the girl to jail or even kill her if she didn't stop talking and moving around in her seat. Raymond is later seen sitting on top of the child to keep her from moving around.

Throughout the footage, four or five other special education students are on the bus. Some of them cover their ears when the teacher and driver start yelling at the girl.

In other footage, a student asks the driver if she has a dog.

Raymond said yes, but the dog is mean and would bite. The dog doesn't like black people, either, Raymond said, though two disabled students on the bus were black.

Nettles pleaded no contest this month to misdemeanor charges of contributing to the neglect of a child and simple assault. A judge fined her $3,000 and gave her a 30-day suspended prison sentence.

Raymond's case is pending.

Margaret Baker 228-896-0538, margar45
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