PITTSBORO — Chatham County Schools officials say Eric Hudson, a 4th-grade teacher at Pittsboro Elementary, is no longer teaching at the school.
Hudson was reinstated as a teacher there not long after a Chatham County District Court judge dropped all five charges of assault with a deadly weapon against him related to a incident that occurred last July. The dropped charges came after a review of the case and positive testimonies about Hudson’s character from his neighbors.
Charges were dropped Jan. 25; Hudson returned to the classroom Feb. 27, according to Chatham County Schools. But he was released from his position on Thursday, March 6.
“He came in and he pled and took responsibility for careless and reckless driving and injury to personal property,” Assistant District Attorney Lynn Kelly previously told the News + Record. “He has been ordered to do an anger management class and community service.”
On July 30, Hudson was arrested and charged after an incident that had occurred on July 10. Two teens involved — a brother and a sister — told the News + Record that on that day, Hudson chased after the car in which they and three others were traveling on Pleasant Hill Road. Hudson was accused of chasing the teens, passing them in his car, and stopping suddenly in front of them, causing a collision. Hudson continued to follow the teens, they say, until they were able to elude him.
After investigating the incident, the District Attorney’s Office said it was unlikely Hudson had a gun in the incident, as the teens initially reported. While the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office listed a handgun as a “weapon” on its official report, a copy of the original arrest warrant for Hudson, dated July 30, lists the “deadly weapon” as a gray Lexus and doesn’t refer to a gun.
At a Jan. 25 court appearance, the assault charges were dropped, but Hudson did accept the charges of injury to personal property.
A return to the classroom
Hudson lobbied for his return to the classroom, and he was reinstated. But in the two weeks following his Feb. 27 return to Pittsboro Elementary, parents of a student in Hudson’s class raised concerns about Hudson’s presence in the classroom, citing the court-ordered anger management classes he was ordered to take, and incidents at the school following his return.
In a message to the News + Record that was also posted on a Facebook page they created and shared with CCS administrators, Catherine Overman Hayes and Mikey Hayes, the parents of the student, said Hudson bought blue t-shirts for the students that read “Team Hudson” on the front and “Simply the Best” on the back.
“The children were expected to figure out how to navigate this situation with no help, a complete disregard for how they might receive the gift,” the Hayeses wrote in the letter. “Mr. Hudson allowed them all to go the restrooms to change into the shirts.”
Chatham County Schools confirmed the t-shirt incident.
“The t-shirts were distributed, but they had not been authorized by the principal,” Nancy Wykle, CCS public information officer, said on March 6. “We are meeting and responding to any parents with concerns.”
Wykle told the News + Record last week the investigation is ongoing. Final employment status will be determined by the Chatham County Board of Education once the investigation is completed.
In a letter to parents of students in Hudson’s class, Pittsboro Elementary Principal Lemondrè Watson said the school is working to “secure a long term sub for the class.” Watson said counselors and school administration will be available to students to ensure their social-emotional well-being.
Catherine Overman Hayes told the News + Record she and her husband met with CCS administration and the Pittsboro Elementary principal following the incident to request their child be moved out of Hudson’s classroom.
Their request was initially denied, according to Hayes, but granted on Wednesday. CCS officials told the News + Record on Friday that Hudson is no longer employed at the school.
In a separate Facebook post Friday, Hayes said it was the correct decision for Hudson to be removed from his position. She also praised CCS staff and administration for addressing their concerns.
“The children are safe and in a class with a teacher dedicated to their education and wellbeing,” they said.
Hudson declined to comment.
Clarification: A previous version of this story claimed Hayes "praised CCS" for removing Hudson. She did not praise the district, but rather the administration and staff in her Facebook post.
Reporter Ben Rappaport can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @b_rappaport
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