The state has suspended a former Eagleton Middle School special education teacher’s license after an investigation revealed she struck at least one student.

The state Board of Education voted unanimously Friday at a meeting in Jefferson City to suspend Dawn Melton’s teaching license for three months.

Melton resigned from her position on April 15, three days after she signed a letter from Blount County Schools Director Rob Britt suspending her without pay and acknowledging allegations of “striking a student on the shoulder.”

BCS investigations documents dated May 1 and obtained by The Daily Times through a records request to the Tennessee Board of Education show an instructional assistant at the school and five students said they witnessed Melton strike a student during a testing break on April 11.

The assistant reported Melton was about to bring the five students back from the bathroom. They were being talkative and Melton asked them to be quiet, the assistant reported, but one student continued “talking and dancing.”

She said Melton then “open-palm struck” the one student. The report shows the student then said “(Y)ou just punched me,” to which Melton reportedly argued. “I did not,” several times and then said “I smacked you, and there is a difference.”

The student confirmed Melton was “mad” and had slapped him on the shoulder.

Other students reported Melton variously had hit them and other students who were not witnesses to the April 11 incident with her hand, with paper and with a pen.

Melton argued she had “swatted” the accusing student but did not mean to, demonstrating a backhanded movement to an interviewer during the investigation. Melton told school district officials she had apologized to the student, but that he had “made a big deal out of it” by shouting “child abuse! You touched me.”

Melton also said the student who accused her was mad at her and wanted to know if his behavior had been addressed by the principal. She said she never previously had done anything similar to the incident under investigation.

Five other Tennessee teachers had their licenses suspended Friday by the state.

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