VIDEO: Former Bainbridge teacher charged with battery after incident with child with autism

Former Bainbridge teacher charged with battery after incident with child with autism
Posted at 1:05 PM, Nov 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-29 09:27:00-05

BAINBRIDGE, GA (WALB) - Law enforcement in Decatur County is investigating a former Bainbridge Teacher who is accused of assaulting a 6-year-old student with autism.

Investigators say this happened at the Pathways Educational Program in Bainbridge in October.

The office of Solicitor-General Benjamin David Harrell and the Decatur County School Police are investigating the incident. 

Avondika Cherry was arrested on Nov. 8 and has been charged with simple battery. Investigators say additional charges against Cherry could follow.

In classroom security video from Oct. 9, investigators say you can see Cherry hitting the student while another student was in the classroom. WATCH IT HERE.

On Oct. 10, another security video shows Cherry speaking to several other staff members about the incident.

Those staff members have been identified as Melissa Williams-Brown and Phyllis Rambo.

That video can be viewed below, but it has been edited to conceal the name of the child.

Williams-Brown and Rambo have both been charged with failing to report child abuse. 

Pathways Director Jeanene Wallace said Cherry and Williams-Brown are no longer employed at Pathways.

The Thomas County School System operates the program that serves eight school systems in six different counties in South Georgia.

Wallace said she was reviewing classroom footage and came across the video.

She immediately called law enforcement, DFACS and the child's parent.

"I am grateful that law enforcement is taking it seriously. This kind of behavior won't be tolerated," said Wallace.

Wallace said the staff at this Decatur County location went through a training in August about child abuse reporting.

"It hurts me to tell the parents that something happened to their child," said Wallace.

Wallace has been with the school system for more than 20 years and said this is the first incident she has ever come across at the Pathways program and hopes that it won't ever happen again.

Wallace said they provide teachers with de-escalation training to help teach students with learning disabilities.

The Thomas County School system operates the program in Decatur County.

They use the Decatur County School System's facility.

DCSS staff said that is why the Decatur County School Police are investigating because it occurred on their property.

The Decatur County Superintendent Tim Cochran spoke to WALB by phone on Wednesday releasing this statement:

"We are all here for the kids. When someone does something that is unprofessional it is important for us to take action. We support what the Thomas County School System has done to ensure this incident was handled properly." - Tim Cochran

The staff members involved in the incident were considered Thomas County School System staff not Decatur County School System staff.

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