Mother ‘shocked’ after school admits teacher slapped child with his own shoe

Taking Action

TAPPAHANNOCK, Va. (WRIC) — A mother in Tappahannock is upset after her child was struck at school at the hands of their teacher.

The school district admits it happened — the confession to the incident was caught on tape and shared with 8News.  

“She said she tapped him, and I was like, ‘What do you mean you tapped him?’ And I had her demonstrate, ‘What do you mean? Like a swat, like that?’” the principal at Tappahannock Elementary School can be heard asking the teacher on the recording. 

The comments from the principal can be heard on an audio recording that was captured during a meeting between the child’s mother, Venisha Hence, other relatives and the principal of the school. All can be heard on tape agreeing to record the May meeting.  

The child’s grandmother states, “I just want us to be sure that we all agree to recording (the meeting).

The child’s mother replies, “Uh huh, yeah.”

And the Principal: “Oh ok.”

During the meeting, the principal goes on to tell Hence that her 5-year-old son, Matavius Lee, was smacked with his own shoes. Hence’s son had been acting up and took off his shoes in class.

The teacher responded using physical action.

The principal says, “she admitted that she did it. She left and did not return to the building.”

Hence says she was devastated. 

“I am like, this can’t be happening. I was hurt and I was shocked.”  

Although before that, mom had a suspicion something wasn’t right at school. Her playful son, who one day was excited to go to class, was all of a sudden experiencing behavioral issues and begged not to go to school.

“Around March, I had picked him up from school and was upset.  And I asked him what was wrong, and he said the teacher had grabbed his arm.”

The incidents have been reported to both Child Protective Services and police.

On tape the principal can be heard saying, “Our proper protocol is to report and investigate.”

Essex County authorities tell 8News they won’t be pressing charges.

“They didn’t have enough evidence that she intentionally meant to harm him,” the frustrated mother explained. “She admitted. So how is it ok that you walk away from this, from abusing a child?”

8News tried to talk with the principal. We also asked if the teacher would be returning.

We were provided the following statement:

This is a personnel matter and we are cooperating with the proper authorities as it relates to this matter. The principal did follow our procedures in sharing details with the parents based on the information she received at that time. The safety and care of our students are our number one concern so we do not take this lightly. However, we will not be commenting further.

Dr. Tara Roane, 
Acting Superintendent 
Essex County Public Schools

Hence says she wants justice for her son and plans to take legal action.

“I worry that she is going to harm other kids,” Hence said. “That is affecting my son and it could affect him the rest of his life.”

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