Former Nashville teacher arrested for sexual battery while teaching in California

Janai Smothers-Metro PD.PNG

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--A former Maplewood High School teacher has been arrested in California on charges of sexual battery by an authority figure.

Metro Nashville Police say former teacher Janai Mercedes Smothers was indicted by a Nashville grand jury for allegedly having unlawful physical contact with a teenage student during the 2015-2016 school year.

The 25-year-old former teacher was arrested in Fresno following the indictment and will be returned to Nashville.

According to the Fresno Unified School District, Smothers became a teacher in the district after leaving Nashville.

"I can just tell you that one of our teachers was taken into custody yesterday at McLane High School. That teacher is now on paid administrative leave," -Jessica Baird, a spokeswoman for the Fresno Unified School District

Fresno Schools also released the following statement regarding the arrest:

Yesterday, Fresno Unified was informed of the arrest of one of our employees. The employee was newly hired this school year and was subject to fingerprints and a national background check. The incident does not involve the district in any way. The person has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the criminal investigation.

“It’s disheartening to hear of these incidents. We strive every day to provide a safe learning environment for our students and will continue to cooperate fully with legal authorities on the investigation.” – Superintendent Bob Nelson.

Metro Nashville Public Schools released the following statement on the arrest:

"We take the safety of our students very seriously and have worked diligently to properly and clearly communicate our reporting policies to our teachers and staff to safeguard our students. MNPS does not comment on pending litigation. However, MNPS cares deeply about the students in our district and has policies and procedures that support our requirements as mandatory reporters to report suspected child abuse or neglect. Additionally, as part of MNPS’ standard practice, if there is an allegation that an employee inappropriately treated or abused a student, the employee is removed from the classroom and put on administrative leave while an investigation is conducted." -Metro Nashville Public Schools

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