UNION COUNTY - The Tennessee Board of Education is investigating Union County Schools after finding out that a teacher was charged with sexual battery of a student and the state was never notified.
McKenzie Manning, communications coordinator for the state BOE, confirmed to WBIR 10News that officials are looking into the matter.
State law requires a school to notify the Tennessee Board of Education within 30 days when a teacher is suspended, fired or quits because of a disciplinary issue.
Philip Cramer, staff attorney for the State BOE, said in a statement to 10News that the state board "has the authority to discipline teachers’ and administrators’ licenses for misconduct, including actions ranging from a formal reprimand up to revocation."
Cramer also noted that the board does not typically take action until other court proceedings are concluded.
The investigation is tied to a $8 million federal lawsuit that alleges Ray Lincoln Head Jr., a former geometry teacher at Union County High School in Maynardville, inappropriately touched and groped one of his 16-year old female students multiple times during the 2015-16 school year.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court on Sept. 6, lists Head, the county, the school system, former vice principal Linda Harrell and principal Carmen Murphy as defendants.
The lawsuit says students and teachers told Harrell and Murphy about Head’s alleged actions but they declined to act on the allegations.
In mid-November 2015, the student’s mother complained to local law enforcement, which contacted the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.
Head then resigned.
A grand jury on May 18 indicted him on three counts of sexual battery.
WBIR is not naming the mother or the student in order to protect the girl’s identity.
(© 2016 WBIR)