The day before her scheduled due process hearing with Decatur City Schools' Board of Education, Carrie Cabri Witt resigned as a teacher at Decatur High.

“She chose to resign (Monday) morning, which means our relationship with her is over,” Superintendent Michael Douglas said after the board accepted Witt’s resignation during a special-called meeting.

Witt, who was assigned to teach U.S. government, economics, International Baccalaureate psychology and 12th-grade International Baccalaureate history at Decatur High, is charged with two counts of a school employee having sex with a student.

Including salary and benefits, the district has paid Witt $142,292 since former Superintendent Ed Nichols placed her on paid leave on March 21, 2016, according to Chief Financial Officer Melanie Maples.

Douglas, who is the fourth DCS superintendent to deal with the matter, said Witt’s pay from the school system ended Monday. Her annual salary was $59,790.

Witt, in a letter she delivered to the Central Office on Monday morning, “vehemently” denied “having committed any crime or harm against a student” or ever being in “an inappropriate relationship with a student.”

Her attorneys, Robert Tuten and Nick Heatherly of Huntsville, were not available for comment, but in her resignation letter, Witt criticized the school board for scheduling her due process hearing while criminal charges are pending.

“It is unfortunate that an employment termination hearing is scheduled prior to my case being settled in a court of law,” she wrote. “Therefore, it is with much regret that I am forced to submit this request at this time.”

Witt, 45, wrote that she was “deeply saddened to resign from a school that I called my work home for twenty years. It is even more upsetting to not have had a voice to defend my character against many unsubstantiated rumors and false allegations.”

Board President Karen Duke, board Vice President Donnie Lane and board member Peggy Baggett attended the meeting and did not publicly comment. In a written statement, however, the board said it was “pleased to have been able to bring closure to personnel proceedings involving Carrie Cabri Witt by securing Ms. Witt’s resignation. The Board’s approval of Ms. Witt’s resignation does not in any way signify its acceptance of or agreement with her denial of culpability.”

The statement, which included all five board members' names, said the resignation “negates the necessity” for a termination hearing.

“Although legal complications beyond our control delayed resolution of the case, the determination to pursue it to conclusion confirms the board’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that our faculty and staff adhere to the highest standards of professionalism in their dealings with students,” the board wrote.

In November 2016, former DCS Superintendent Dan Brigman wanted to schedule a termination hearing for Witt, but her attorneys successfully argued that holding the hearing before the board would force Witt to choose between the “risk of self-incrimination if she testified” or “losing her teaching contract if she did not,” according to court documents.

Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson stopped the board on Feb. 28, 2017, from taking any actions against Witt. Attorneys for the school district appealed his ruling, and the state Supreme Court on June 22 ordered Thompson to lift his preliminary injunction, which he did July 11.

Douglas said today was the earliest date he could schedule Witt’s due process hearing because the situation involving her status with the school district reverted back to the Students First Act.

The 2011 law replaced the state’s tenure law and requires the school system to give tenured employees a 30- to 60-day notice before holding termination hearings, a spokeswoman with the Alabama Association of School Boards said.

In August 2017, Thompson dismissed the charges against Witt and another defendant charged with violating a law prohibiting school employees from having sex with students. The state appealed and last month the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed Thompson's ruling and ordered that the charges be reinstated. Witt's lawyer said at the time the appellate decision would be appealed.

Thompson had said the law was unconstitutional as applied to Witt and David Solomon, who was a contract teacher at Falkville High School.

"This Court acknowledges that a disparity of power may inherently exist in a teacher/student relationship, but it clearly does not exist between every school employee and every student regardless of where the student is enrolled," Thompson wrote. "By eliminating the requirement that the state show a position of authority, grooming, abuse, coercion, or lack of consent, the state criminalizes behaviors outside the state's legitimate purpose."

Witt’s attorneys have argued in court filings that the 2010 statute under which their client is charged — prohibiting a school employee from engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student — is unconstitutional.

They said there are laws to protect people who are incapable of consent because of age, mental defect, physical incapacity and in cases of coercion or fraud. Under state law, Witt’s attorneys wrote, anyone without a specified infirmity who is at least 16 years old is capable of consenting to sex.

“In this case, consent was freely given, without defect, and the defendant is being prosecuted for a romantic relationship with a consenting young man, solely because of her employment with Decatur High School,” Witt’s attorneys wrote of the charges filed against their client.

- or 256-340-2469. Twitter @DD_Deangelo.
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(2) comments

Belinda Newell

I think the public forgets that teenagers aren’t necessarily considered children. The law doesn’t always view them that way whenever they willingly commit murder. Why? Mens rea! They knew what they were doing when they did it. Not only did these two students willingly participate in intercourse with a teacher, but they knew it was against the law whenever they did it which, by law, should make them equally as guilty.

• Mens rea (/ˈmɛnz ˈriːə/; Law Latin for "guilty mind") is the mental element of a person's intention to commit a crime; or knowledge that one's action or lack of action would cause a crime to be committed. ... As a general rule, someone who acted without mental fault is not liable in criminal law.

Now let’s define the term consenting:

• Consenting is to permit, approve, or agree; comply or yield (often followed by to or an infinitive):
He consented to the proposal. We asked her permission, and she consented.

So how the public can continue to paint these two CONSENSUAL teenagers (pretty much young adults) as victims is absurd!

Some of these 16, 17, 18 year-old high schools teens can be very emboldened with their actions and behaviors. They flirt, chase, fantasize, and sometimes even proposition. Their hormones are through the roof at that age!

Granted, Carrie had a choice not to accept any of their invitations. However, let’s take a step back for a moment...

hypothetically speaking… lets say

• she went through a horrible previous relationship with the love of her life. Maybe she was so emotionally scarred from it that she had that weak moment of despair. Someone tells her she’s pretty enough. Sometimes tells her she’s thin enough and has the perfect body. Someone puts her on that high pedestal and makes her feel like a worthy woman again! Sometimes people use poor judgement, make mistakes, say and do things they never thought they’d do out of despair and loneliness. She used bad judgment. She made a mistake. She let her emotions get the best of her. It happens!

Now let’s flip the situation…

• She singlehandedly managed to physically overpower them (even though they were much stronger than she is), tied them up, held a gun to their heads, and demanded that they do as she instructed.…or else!

Then I’d completely agree with all of these negative comments…100%!

Let’s flip the situation yet again….

• She told these students that she would fail them if they didn’t please her.

I find it hard to believe that someone would feel so threatened that they would allow themselves to be victimized in that manner over a grade. In this day and age with so much technology readily available at our fingertips, all those students had to do was record her verbal threat and proposition on their iPhone, then turn it over to the principal or police. Alabama is a one party state after all.

• Alabama privacy laws make it a one party state, which means that only one person that is part of the secret recording must consent to being recorded. As such, if you are part of the conversation and have decided to record it, you have given your consent to be recorded and have met this requirement in Alabama.

So to label her as a predator is absurd!

Because of the state’s screwed up law, if Carrie would’ve been a substitute teacher… None of this would be happening! No charges could be filed against her for the exact same act! A boss who trains, supervises, mentors, and one who has power over his employees can have relations with them if they’re over the age of 16 without legal consequences! How is it legal for a 40 year-boss to commit the same act with their 16 year-old employee, but criminal if you work as a teacher? Can anyone explain this to me?

It should only be a school policy against engaging in relations with a student 16 years or older, not a criminal offense! If you engage, you lose your job! You’re fired! Not you lose your job, career, falsely labeled a predator, and sent to prison! In the workforce many companies and organizations have policies against people in roles of power having relations with their employees. However, if they do, they’re not criminally prosecuted!

Why aren’t people voicing their opinions towards the parents of these young adults who obviously weren’t raised according to what society deems as proper standards? Then maybe they wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with.

Society accepts what they want to accept with their knee jerk reactions…instead of looking at a situation from all different angles.

If one of my school aged boys, who was the age of 16, 17, or 18, had CONSENSUAL relations with an older woman (even a teacher), I wouldn’t be suing or pressing charges because they consented and/or provoked it! If I learned that my child pursued that woman and willingly had relations with could I? I certainly wouldn’t ruin a person professionally or publicly for something that my child willingly participated in, much less aggressively pursued!

One can’t help but wonder if these parents aren’t just after financial gain and publicity?

Adam White

Guess she milked that cash cow long enough. Look forward to hearing about her interest in running for office soon.

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