LA VERGNE, Tenn. – A 33-year-old elementary school employee in Tennessee was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment Sunday after officers say they found three children in her trunk.
According to police, a total of nine students were reportedly in Andria James’ 2010 Chevy Malibu at the time. Three of the children were inside the trunk.
James is a tutor at Alex Green Elementary School in La Vergne, Tennessee, which is southeast of Nashville.
A customer spotted James’ car at a La Vergne Speedway Sunday and called police.
WKRN TV spoke with James on Monday who claims she is not the person people are making her out to be.
“There were never nine in my car or in the store. Never,” she said.
James also said none of the children were ever in the trunk.
“That’s a complete and utter lie,” she said.
“So you’re saying that they did not ride in the trunk, they got in the trunk at the store? Did they get in the trunk at the store,” WKRN reporter Larry Flowers asked.
“Well, the doors were opened, so let’s say that,” James said.
“When the trunk came up, we had all their things in the back trunk because they needed to go home. I only needed to transport them at that point.”
Police said surveillance video from store disputes James’ claims.
“[We were] able to view video footage of the gas pumps and observe the vehicle pull up to the gas pump and three children exited the trunk of the vehicle once it stopped at the gas pump,” said La Vergne Police Department Sgt. Bob Hayes.
James said she picked the children up after a basketball game on Saturday and they spent the night at her La Vergne home.
“All of them didn’t get in the trunk now, let’s not get it confused,” James said. “All of them never got into the trunk; there was plenty of room, those kids and seat belts.”
James said she only took the children to the store to get away from a dangerous situation.
Police confirmed she called them a day or so before, but authorities didn’t say why. Police said James put the children in more danger.
“It’s very saddening and heartbreaking, and I have children of my own, that an adult would put other people’s children or children in harm’s way like that,” Hayes said.
After James’ arrest, parents and relatives were called to pick the children up.
“They were all very upset, especially the family members of the ones riding in the trunk,” Hayes said.
All nine children involved were James’ students and ranged in age from eight to 10 years old.
According to Metro schools spokesman Joe Bass, James has worked as a part-time tutor since September. He added that she will be placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure when an employee is arrested.
Bass released a statement regarding the alleged incident that said in part, “We are in contact with the authorities in Rutherford County and will cooperate fully with their investigation.
Obviously, the acts she is accused of are completely inappropriate for an educator entrusted with caring for students, and we will take further disciplinary action if needed as more details come to light.”
James was charged with three counts of reckless endangerment. She had bonded out of jail. She is due in court March 9.