MEMPHIS - A former elementary school teacher accused of hitting students while quoting the Bible has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault.
Linda Banks, 49, of Brownsville, was fired from her job at Springdale Elementary in March 2001 after the school district investigated complaints from parents and students of alleged child abuse.
One school official reported in an internal memo that children said Banks would often make religious references, such as the Holy Trinity, before spanking them.
"Students said she said: 'In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I'm going to beat your (expletive).' "
Banks was arrested Monday at the school board offices. She was there for a hearing to appeal her firing. The hearing was canceled.
Parent Suzette Sanders filed a complaint against Banks with school officials and police last year, saying the tenured teacher abused her son David, 10, now a sixth-grader.
The boy told investigators that Banks threw the leg of an old typing table across the room at him.
"When I was sitting at the computer, she said I was talking too loud and it was my last warning," David told The Commercial Appeal newspaper. "She threw a stick at the back of my head and gave me a knot. Then she told me she was aiming for my head."
He said Banks also "would pick some of the kids up by their feet and flip us over upside down and start whipping us."
The children said Banks threatened to beat them if they told their parents about the spankings.
Grandmother Evia Harris said Banks struck her grandson, Fredrick Jefferson, on the wrist with a stick, and some children wore extra clothing to protect themselves from blows by Banks.
According to Banks' personnel file, she was officially reprimanded in 1992 for "physically handling children" by grabbing and shaking them. She was hired by the school in 1990.
The school district only allows spanking under specific guidelines. These include having another adult present.
School officials investigated other complaints from parents alleging child abuse in 1999 and 2000. Accusations last year came from four parents.
Springdale Principal Cherrie WonDemagegnehu said there was not enough evidence from students to support the child abuse allegations and Banks' firing until last year.
Banks denied all the allegations in written letters to school officials.
She posted a $6,000 bond Tuesday and was released from custody. Her case is pending in criminal court and no court date has been set.
If convicted, she faces three to six years in prison for each felony count.