Woodley

Edwina Woodley, the grandmother involved in the dress code controversy with Tatum ISD, was arrested and arraigned on Oct. 26 on charges of perjury and abandoning or endangering a child without intent to return. 

According to one of two probable cause affidavits received from the Rusk County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5 office, on Oct. 15, Tatum police officer, Matthew Allison stated that Woodley “did intentionally abandon the complainant, without intent to return for the child, in a place under circumstances that exposed the complainant to an unreasonable risk of harm, namely Tatum Primary School.” 

This statement is made in accordance with Texas Penal Code 22.041, which relates to abandoning or endangering a child. Subsection (b) of this code states that this offense is a second-degree felony if the child is abandoned under circumstances that a reasonable person would believe would place the child in imminent danger.

Questions were raised by Waukeen McCoy, representative for Woodley, relating to the safety concerns within a public school campus, specifically what circumstance could lead one to believe a child was in imminent danger while in the care of school administration. 

McCoy did draw attention to the fact that the charging officer, Allison, is married to an educator currently employed by Tatum ISD. “The officer should have recused himself,” said McCoy, pointing out a potential conflict of interest between an officer assigned to the case being the spouse of an employee of the school district involved. 

He also asserted as the Head Start program is a federally funded program under the direction of Region 7, and not a program specific to Tatum ISD, Woodley’s grandson hasn’t been un-enrolled and should; therefore, be participating in the classes available. 

Woodley’s second charge of perjury stems from the alleged falsification of documentation provided for the enrollment of the child into the Head Start program. Officer Allison reviewed all documents provided by Tatum ISD Superintendent, Dr. J.P. Richardson and alleges, “there are multiple perjured documents.” All documents have been made ready for inspection by the District Attorney’s office by the Tatum ISD legal team, according to the applicable Probable Cause affidavit. 

Dr. Richardson’s office was contacted for clarification as to what circumstances would create imminent danger within a public school. As of press time, no comment was received or clarification given.

Repeated attempts were made to contact Tatum Chief of Police, April Rains, to discuss the allegations of conflict of interest, and the legal ramifications of the claim, but she was unavailable for comment. 

The director over Region 7’s Head Start program, Sonya McCoy, was also unavailable to explore the possibility that the child could still be enrolled and the authority of the school to dismiss a child from the program. 

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