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School board fires embattled parapro

COVINGTON - The Newton County Board of Education approved the termination of a Cousins Middle School paraprofessional who was arrested last week on child molestation and other related charges.

During Tuesday night's combined work session and monthly board meeting, the Newton County School System recommended the board to accept the termination of Brandi McMichael, a special education paraprofessional at Cousins who school system officials hired on July 20, 2007.

The board members unanimously approved the termination effective Dec. 2, which is the date she was arrested by Newton County Sheriff's Office deputies, who determined she had engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old male student at the school.

"The safety of our students is our primary concern," said Sherri Viniard, NCSS director of public relations.

NCSO Lt. Bill Watterson said last week that his department learned of the relationship after a school staff member told an administrator about a possible inappropriate relationship between the now-29-year-old paraprofessional and the boy. The school administrator then notified the sheriff's department.

The NCSO charged McMichael with child molestation and electronic furnishing of obscene materials to a child under the age of 18 after discovering evidence of alleged inappropriate text messages and pictures that were transmitted between the school employee and the student.

She also was charged with enticing a child for indecent purposes and interfering with child custody, a charge which involves a person who does not have legal custody of a child taking the child from one who does have custody.

McMichael was released from jail on a $7,000 bond.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.