Meridian, Miss. Depending on how things play out in the legal system, one teacher may not be returning to West Hills Elementary in the fall.
That teacher, whose name has not been released, is awaiting a grand jury review to determine if there is enough evidence to take a case to trial following at least one allegation of molestation during the last school year.
By law, teachers are under a protected status, meaning before they can be arrested and charged with this type of crime, they must first undergo a probable cause hearing, but that isn't happening in this case.
"That probable cause hearing was scheduled for last week," said Capt. Dean Harper. "However, the county prosecutor and the sitting circuit court judge on the case decided instead of a probable cause hearing, they would let the case go to a grand jury."
In a statement released to Newscenter 11, Meridian superintendent Dr. Alvin Taylor said, "A teacher from West Hills Elementary was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into allegations of molestation. Shortly after, the Meridian Public School District handed the investigation over to the Meridian Police Department."
Due to confidentiality laws, the school district cannot comment further on the matter. But Meridian police say the case is now at a standstill until that grand jury hearing.
"The teacher cannot be arrested because of state law, and because of the decision made by the county prosecutor and the circuit court judge," Harper said.
The case could be presented to a grand jury as early as July or as late as September.