Police: Johnston County teacher arrest obscured by district

The Smithfield Police Department has indicated that Johnston County Public Schools did not cooperate with law enforcement by failing to report allegations against one of its elementary school teachers, according to the JoCo Report.

The JoCo Report published an article on May 10 detailing the district had dragged its feet for months in reporting allegations that a teacher named Tammy Braswell had assaulted a 4-year-0ld pre-k student in mid-December of 2021. According to law enforcement, the assault was not reported until February of 2022.

Excerpt from the JoCo Report:

According to the search warrant, on February 11, 2022, Smithfield Police Sgt. W.T. Lee was contacted by JCPS Human Resources Executive Director Carla Withrow. Withrow wanted to file a report about an assault that happened between a South Smithfield Elementary teacher and a four year-old pre-kindergarten student.

The alleged assault occurred 56 days earlier, December 17, 2021, and although it was reported to school officials that same day, they failed to immediately report the assault to law enforcement.

Additionally, the law enforcement officials working the case said that the district initially refused to supply them with Braswell’s name and were told that there was a “general rule” not to report such incidents “if the student had no marks, injuries, or if the child does not make a comment that the alleged assault hurt.” That general rule apparently changed once the father of the child began demanding answers and through a series of emails with the district discovered there had been “multiple incidents.”

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Tammy Annette Braswell, age 51, was arrested in Wayne County on April 8 and charged with misdemeanor assault on a child under age 12. She was released from the Wayne County Detention Center on a $1,000 unsecured bond. Her next court appearance will be on May 17 in Johnston County.

Braswell had worked at South Smithfield Elementary, but the district has already scrubbed her profile from its website.

Smithfield Sgt. Sholes who is investigating the case cited a lack of transparency by the district.

“By statements from the victim, victim’s father, and Carla Withrow, it is clear that the victim was assaulted on multiple times by Tammy Braswell,” Sholes stated. “However, due to a lack of transparency by the school system, I have not been able to thoroughly investigate this reported assault. I have not been able to speak with direct witnesses due to Johnston County Schools withholding this information.”

Police were forced to seek a search warrant for the Johnston County Public Schools Human Resource department, which was executed on March 11.

The district confirmed that Braswell was initially “suspended on January 3, 2022, and remained suspended until she resigned from her position on February 12, 2022.”

Braswell’s resignation was tendered just one day after the allegations were first reported to police.

When asked if Braswell’s resignation had been reported to the State Board of Education as required by statute, a district spokeswoman said that “Any information regarding her licensure would have to come from the Department of Public Instruction.”

The district also confirmed that Braswell had been employed as a teacher with the district since August 11, 2021.

A statement was issued by Johnston County Public Schools:

“Johnston County Public Schools takes allegations of staff misconduct seriously. Although we cannot discuss the specifics of an investigation into alleged staff misconduct, we can confirm that whenever such allegations arise, our administration responds swiftly, by investigating the allegations and, sometimes, by removing staff from classrooms pending completion of a thorough review.”

“Student safety remains our priority, and to this end, we make required and discretionary reports of staff misconduct to law enforcement and the Department of Public Instruction. We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with local law enforcement, and believe dialogue with law enforcement leadership to be the most direct and transparent method of promoting our ongoing collaboration.”

According to state records, Braswell does not have a North Carolina teaching license.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips: APDillon@Protonmail.com
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