By Sarah Portluck
HOUSTON — A teacher and three other educators at a Houston charter school were charged last Monday in connection with the videotaped beating of a 13-year-old boy who was attending the school.
Teacher Sheri Lynn Davis, 40, was charged with injury to a child, a third-degree felony, and could face up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine if convicted, said Harris County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Donna Hawkins.
A cell phone video recorded by another student shows Davis pummeling a 13-year-old boy in class on April 29. She was fired the following week from Jamie’s House Charter School in northwest Houston.
Three school employees — including school superintendent and founder Ollie Hilliard, principal David Jones and a teacher who witnessed the attack, Gabriel Moseley — were charged with failure to report child abuse, a misdemeanor charge, Hawkins said. Those defendants face up to one year in Harris County jail and up to a $4,000 fine if convicted.
In the video, Davis is seen shoving, kicking and dragging the student, Isaiah Reagins, across the classroom floor as he tried to protect himself. Reagins suffered a black eye and other bruises in the attack. His mother, Alesha Johnson, sued Davis and the school.
“What today signifies is what the kids have been telling us and what we’ve been saying all along is in fact true,” Brant Stogner, Johnson’s attorney, said Monday. “This goes beyond just one teacher and one kid, this goes to show a deeper problem at that school.”
Reagins is living out of town with family and attending vacation Bible school, Stogner said. He will not return to Jamie’s House in the fall.
“He’s recovering well from his physical injuries, but it’s hard to tell the extent of his emotional and physical injuries,” Stogner said. “At this point, we’re going to allow him to be a little boy this summer and when school starts up, see how he handles being back in school.”
An attorney for Davis, Chip Lewis, has said the attack started when she tried to break up a fight in the hall and heard her classroom door shut and lock behind her. She shook the door until she caught the attention of a student who opened it, and that is when the recorded incident began.
Davis has apologized for the beating, saying she was “without excuse” for the attack. She has also met with the student’s mother, and apologized. On last Monday, Lisa Andrews, another attorney for Davis, said the full story will come out in court.
“I feel very confident that when the entire story comes out and what precipitated Ms. Davis to do what she did, she will be vindicated,” Andrews said.
An attorney for Moseley, Carvana Cloud, did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press. It was not immediately clear whether the other defendants had retained lawyers. A voicemail left for the school was not immediately returned.
Following the incident, the Texas Education Agency assigned a conservator to the school to review safety, discipline and teacher training and assist with improvements. The conservator will spend the summer reviewing the school’s discipline and training policies, according to an agency spokeswoman.