Fired Russell Cave Elementary teacher denies shaking a child

Fayette County Public Schools central offices at 701 East Main Street, Lexington.
Fayette County Public Schools central offices at 701 East Main Street, Lexington.

A Russell Cave Elementary School special education teacher has been fired by Fayette County Superintendent Manny Caulk, an action reported to the school board on May 23.

In an April 26 letter to teacher Joy Cunningham, terminating her contract for conduct unbecoming a teacher, Caulk noted an attached document that referred to Cunningham allegedly shaking a child.

In a personnel meeting on March 22, the document obtained by the Herald-Leader from the Kentucky Department of Education under the state Open Records Act said Cunningham “admitted to taking a child by the chin and cuffing the child’s chin, but denies shaking the child; several witnesses confirmed the wrongdoing.”

A Cabinet for Health and Family Services investigation led to substantiation of allegations of suspected child abuse or neglect, the document said.

During the personnel meeting, Cunningham confirmed that there were two previous documented code of ethics violations not involving students, that had led to the suspension of her teaching certification, the document said. The document said the violations involved financial issues.

The “repeated” violations to the code of ethics was the basis of Caulk’s findings that Cunningham exhibited conduct unbecoming a teacher, the document said.

The Herald-Leader could not reach Cunningham for comment.

The Kentucky Department of Education has not received an appeal of the termination, officials said.

Lisa Deffendall, spokeswoman for Fayette County Public Schools, said district officials would not comment on the personnel matter.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears