Fate of suspended Metro teacher remains undecided

Fate of suspended Metro teacher remains undecided (Image 1)

Just more than a week before school starts back for Metro students, the fate of one teacher who was heard insulting students on an audio recording has yet to be decided.

Sylvan Park Elementary teacher Noelle Smith was placed on administrative leave in April after a more than three hour audio tape of her making derogatory statements to her students surfaced.

“She ended the year on leave.  She will start the new year still on leave,” Assistant to Metro Schools Director Meredith Libbey said.

On the recording, Smith is clearly heard making remarks such as, “Mark it wrong. Get a brain. I don't know if you can grow one overnight,” and “I'm tired of it. I don't sit here and talk and give you ideas for the fun of it.  I do it for kids like you who have no clue, what you're doing.”

The recording surfaced after after a parent of one of Smith's students slipped an audio recorder into their daughter's backpack after becoming concerned about their child's drop in grades and self esteem.

“I talked to my wife, if she was 10-years older she would have probably killed herself by now because she is so destroyed emotionally,” the student's father previously told Nashville's News 2.

Officials previously said Smith would remain on administrative leave until the investigation is complete.

“The employee is on leave during that process and there are several steps,” Libbey said. “It can take some time, but the teacher won't return to the classroom during this investigation and during this process.”

According to school officials, the process and investigation continues and is currently being handled by Interim Director of Human Resources Craig Ott.

Ott, who declined to give an on camera interview since he is part of the review process, is said to have listened to the more than three hour long recording last week.  

“Mr. Ott is very concerned with what's on the tape.  He's very interested in having a complete understanding and a complete investigation,” Libbey said. “There's less concern about trying to accelerate the process than to make sure that it is fair and that it is thorough so there isn't necessarily a deadline associated with this.”

According to Libbey once the investigation is complete, there are several possible outcomes for Smith.

“An unpaid suspension, [there] might be a letter of reprimand and in the most extreme case, which very rarely happens, there might be a recommendation to the Board of Education to dismiss a teacher.”

Repeated efforts by Nashville's News 2 to reach Noelle Smith regarding the incident have not been successful.

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