Nashville parents seek answers after teacher charged in child porn case

A stunned Napier Elementary community sought answers Wednesday from school officials after a Nashville music teacher was accused this week of secretly recording 40 girls as they changed clothes at the school.

The teacher, who faces a series of child porn charges, once worked at Napier, and parents pressed Metro Nashville Public Schools leaders and prosecutors on the case — including about safety and why students were interviewed by police without first notifying parents — during a meeting held at the school.

Tamika Archibald, who has a fourth-grade daughter at Napier, said the news eroded her trust in the school’s ability to keep students safe and asked why there weren’t more checks for hidden cameras.

“I’m thinking about taking my kids out of the district," she said. “The kids are thinking about playing and having fun, not about any hidden cameras.”

Parents asked whether their child was one of the 40 victims secretly recorded. But all parents have been notified by police, said Tammy Meade, a Davidson County assistant district attorney. Archibald said she had feared she’d be contacted by police, but felt some relief after talking with district officials.

And others asked about the legal process ahead for Jarrett Jones, 30, the former Napier teacher charged in the case.

“This will be a long process,” Meade said. “It’s going to take patience and your trust.”

Jones faces two counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of minors and three counts of sexual exploitation of minors after Metro police say he admitted Sept. 8 to making the secret recordings at the elementary school where he worked for four years. He was arrested Monday.

Jones, who most recently taught music at Antioch High School, was placed on administrative leave Sept. 9. Metro Schools spokesman Joe Bass said the district plans to fire Jones. And the district will follow state policy in reporting the arrest to the Tennessee State Board of Education to have his license revoked.

Jones could face a lengthy sentence if convicted. As a result, Davidson County prosecutors filed a motion Wednesday to increase his bail, according to court papers. He is currently jailed on a $100,000 bail. A court hearing is set for Monday.

"The state has identified approximately 40 minor victims, all former students of the defendant when he taught at Napier Elementary School between 2011 and 2015, that the defendant secretly recorded and that the videos, over 50 recorded videos, are sexual in nature, which the state submits will result in several dozen additional charges against the defendant," court papers filed in Davidson County General Sessions Court show.

According to the documents, Jones' current charges are felonies that require mandatory sentences of eight to 12 years per count.

"In light of the fact the defendant manufactured over 50 videos of his students ... the defendant is essentially looking at an effective life sentence upon conviction," Assistant District Attorney Chad Butler wrote in the motion. "In light of the nature and seriousness of the charges, the likelihood of conviction, and the probable sentence to be imposed upon conviction, the state would respectfully request the defendant's bail to be increased to a reasonable amount."

Butler did not specify a monetary amount in the motion.

At the Napier parent meeting, Tony Majors, Metro Schools chief support services officer, said incidents of teachers engaging in an inappropriate relationship with students in the district are rare.

The district also does background checks on every staff member, he said. Personnel records obtained by The Tennessean show Jones had not been in trouble in the past.

Jones is accused of filming the girls while they were changing for musicals, which is not school or district policy, said Principal Watechia Lawless. Students are asked to put costumes on over their clothes, she said.

Meade, the assistant district attorney, said she couldn’t go into detail about what type of device was used to record the girls changing. She said there are many types of devices that can be used for recording.

Meade and district officials also fielded questions about why parents weren’t first notified before students were interviewed by police.

Under state law, police can interview students without parental permission.

The district sent home letters and made calls to parents after interviews with students. Children’s advocacy group Nashville Children’s Alliance also sat in on the meetings.

Meade said the goal was to get the student testimonies quickly while not causing harm to the children or case.

“It was swift, there were counselors, and we made it as comfortable a process as possible,” she said. “We got the best information we could. And hopefully we can start healing.”

Reach Jason Gonzales at 615-259-8047 and on Twitter @ByJasonGonzales. Reach Natalie Neysa Alund at 615-259-58072 and on Twitter @nataliealund.

Family resources

During the parent meeting, district officials said they will provide counseling and mental health resources at the school to any families that need assistance. The district also provided a list of resource centers for families dealing with trauma.

  • Mental Health Co-Op Crisis Line: 615-726-0125
  • Non-crisis line (for appointment): 615-743-1555
  • Vanderbilt Behavioral Health: 615-327-7000
  • Family and Children's Services: 615-340-9731
  • Nashville Children’s Alliance: 615-327-9958

This story originally appeared on The Tennessean’s website.


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