Former Clarksville kindergarten teacher
arrested on Child Abuse charges
Clarksville, TN – A former kindergarten teacher in Clarksville has been arrested on child abuse charges.
Bonnie Conn, 49, who taught kindergarten at St. Bethlehem Elementary School, is charged with two counts of child abuse.
According to the sheriff’s office, Conn was arrested Wednesday and was being held on $15,000 bond.
Earlier this month, the mother of a student filed a federal lawsuit against the Clarksville-Montgomery County Board of Education and Conn claiming that her autistic son was mistreated by Conn after a video surfaced which showed Conn dragging the boy out of her classroom by the arm on two occasions.
A Montgomery County grand jury returned an indictment this month, charging Conn with two counts of child abuse. According to the indictment, Conn abused a child under the age of 8 “so as to adversely affect the child’s health and welfare” on Jan. 23 and Jan. 27.
The indictment does not identify the child or mother in the criminal case, but the dates correspond with those involving the autistic child.
According to the federal lawsuit, Feltonas Wells is the mother of a 6-year-old student who was placed in Conn’s classroom at the school in the fall of 2016.
The lawsuit alleges that the child’s Constitutional rights were violated among other issues.
The child is diagnosed with severe Autism syndrome and qualified as a student with “developmental delay” based on Tennessee Department of Education guidelines.
Wells first became concerned about the “sad faces” her son was receiving on his daily chart reportedly for poor behavior in class.
On Feb. 2, 2017, Wells went to the school to drop off another child and found that her son was being punished by being forced to lay on a cot isolated from the classroom and facing away from the teacher and other students.
She removed the boy and took him home.
The next day her son begged his mother not to make him go to school because “he didn’t want to be bad anymore,” according to the lawsuit.
A principal called and said he would be assigned to a new teacher so his mother returned him to school.
On Feb. 9, Wells received a phone call from Principal Melisse Williams, who seemed to be crying as she told the mother that she witnessed video footage of her son being pushed by Conn and had reported the abuse to the Department of Children Services, according to the lawsuit.
On Feb. 10, Wells went to the school and was allowed to view a surveillance camera outside Conn’s classroom.
“To Ms. Wells’ shock and surprise, the video revealed Ms. Conn violently dragging (the boy) out of the classroom by one arm and then pushing him with her foot to get him out of the doorway,” the lawsuit said. “She then shut the door causing it to strike (the boy) on his head. Ms. Conn left (the boy) alone in the hallway and returned to her classroom. (The boy) is shown holding his head and crying following the physical assault.”
When Wells asked why her son was put back in Conn’s classroom, she was told that Conn was undergoing anger management counseling and the number of students had been reduced so she would not become overwhelmed, the lawsuit said.
Wells removed the boy from the school and enrolled him in another local school.
According to Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools Spokeswoman Elise Shelton, Conn was hired in 2005, placed on alternative work site on Feb. 10 and resigned Feb. 16.