published Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Marion County mom faces charges after confronting boys who bullied her deaf son

by Naomi Jagoda
  • photo
    Christa Green, left, and her son, Tavis, walk from the Marion County Courthouse on Wednesday after being arraigned on assault charges stemming from an incident last week on a Marion County school bus.
    Photo by Ben Benton.
    enlarge photo

JASPER, Tenn. — A Marion County mother and her deaf son are charged in a school bus altercation that the mother says started after other students bullied her son.

Christa Green, 39, and her son, Tavis Green, 18, were arraigned Wednesday in a Marion County court on a combined 16 counts stemming from the incident.

Christa Green is charged with 13 counts of assault, burglary of an auto and improperly being on school premises, while Tavis Green, a student at Whitwell High School, is charged with one count of assault, records show.

General Sessions Court Judge Mark Raines continued the case to Oct. 12 to give prosecutors time to interview witnesses and review a school bus surveillance tape of the incident. Raines has recused himself from the case because he is the attorney for Marion County Schools.

Christa Green's defense counsel, Graham Swafford, said after the hearing that this is a case of a parent defending her child. Swafford said Christa Green was additionally concerned about a cochlear implant Tavis Green recently had surgically placed in his ear.

"She's not guilty of [13] counts of assault," Swafford said. "This is a matter of a mother trying to look after her child."

Following Wednesday's hearing, Christa Green declined to comment, saying her attorney had advised her and her son not to talk to media.

But in an interview Tuesday, she said the incident started when she received a call from a student who was riding the bus last Thursday with her son. The student told her that her son had been punched on the bus and wanted his mom to get him, Christa Green said.

As her son was getting off the bus that day, Christa Green got on, records state.

She said that, once she was on the bus, the driver grabbed her arms, which prompted Tavis Green to push the driver away and say "Don't touch my momma."

Christa Green said she then told students on the bus that, if they tried to hit her son again, she would "whip" them herself. The 16-year-old boy accused of punching her son said he was going to call his mother and Christa Green said she urged him to do so.

  • photo
    Marion County mother Christa Green, left, talks with her attorney, Graham Swafford, during a hearing Wednesday in Marion County General Sessions Court. Green is charged with 13 counts of assault in a school bus incident involving her deaf son, a student at Whitwell High School.
    Photo by Ben Benton /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Court records and Christa Green's account of what happened generally agree, but she said she only wanted to protect her son and denied touching anyone. She said surveillance video from the bus security camera will prove her side of the story.

Bus driver Stanley Cookston stated in an affidavit that Christa Green got onto the bus after Cookston told her she wasn't allowed onboard. He said she shoved her way onto the bus and went to the back where the 16-year-old accused of hitting her son was seated, records show. Cookston's statement agreed with Christa Green's account about what she told the students on the bus.

Marion County Director of Schools Mark Griffith said both boys have been suspended from the bus for five days.

Christa Green said her son was the target of bullies last year on a bus.

Griffith said there have been previous incidents over the past two years involving Tavis Green, but that there was no ongoing bullying as far as he knew. The problem on the bus last week was the first incident involving Tavis Green this year, he said.

Griffith said there are processes that must be followed to effectively deal with the problem, but he understands a parents' instinct to protect their children.

The outcome of the court process will be the end of the matter for the school system, he said, and Tavis Green will face no further punishment at school.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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328Kwebsite said...

Sentence them all, the entire school, to 2 more hours of Math homework per day for the rest of the year. Immediately stop all football at that high school. That ought to fix it.

If they have enough energy to punch a deaf kid, they were not given enough Algebra and English Lit homework.

No football. More homework. Stop stupidity in its tracks.

September 29, 2011 at 1:49 a.m.
sunnydelight said...

If the bus driver and the school would do their jobs , this parent wouldn't have had to do it for them. I applaud her for taking a stand. The school & the driver should be ashamed. She should be comended for being a careing parent.

September 29, 2011 at 5:58 a.m.
dennis said...

I agree with sunnydelight. The school board and the bus driver both should be ashamed for their none actions. And what is a week off of the bus for that 16 year old THUG. He should be put off the bus forever and let his parents get him to school. I as a tax payer shouldn't have to pay for that thug to ride a tax payer owned bus. Give him a ride in one of the sheriff's department cars and show him what his future mode of transportation is. He hasn't picked on the right handicap person. Its time to get into his parents pocket and make them pay! I hope the Green's have an attorney.

September 29, 2011 at 6:46 a.m.
zulalily said...

As a retired high school teacher, I can assure you that both teachers and administrators (bus drivers, as well) will ignore bullying as long as they can possibly get away with doing so. As current news stories tell us, that may even be up to the point where a student being bullied takes his own life when he can't handle it anymore. I don't find anything this mother or her son did to be worthy of police involvement. Why wasn't the boy who bullied her son hauled into court as well? The writer who suggested eliminating sports activities was on the right track. If a school were to suspend a student guilty of bullying from attending any extracurricular activities, that would be starting out on the right track. It also sounds like this student had been bullied continually and it is disingenuous for the Director of Marion County Schools to try to gloss over that fact. These bullies MUST be stopped! If our educators were not total cowards this situation could be gotten under much better control. There needs to be a zero tolerance level anywhere on school property (including on the bus) and a second offense should bring suspension for at least two weeks and a third offense should be grounds for permanent expulsion for that school year. Yes, addressing this situation should begin with a strong warning to the parents of the offender setting out exactly what will happen if the behavior is ongoing. Until educators develop the character to handle these situations in a fair and consistent manner, some parents will continue to take matters into their own hands--and who among us can blame them?

September 29, 2011 at 8:47 a.m.
hrtofluv said...

I would have jumped on the bus to protect any child, especially one with special needs! I can't believe they charged her with 13 counts (maybe number of people on the bus?) - that is ridiculous! What a big tuff guy to pick on a deaf child - future prisoner in the making! Bus drivers are scared to get involved anymore, cause they don't want to get sued themselves. And they probably witness bullying everyday - they are numb to it anymore. I wouldn't let my kid ride on a schoolbus - no matter what. I am very fortunate that I can drop them off at school on the way to work and then have them picked up at the end of the day by friends' parents or stay after for extracurricular sports. But... most bullies have been bullied themselves - sometimes at home. I had a schoolbus bully in middle school and when I finally told my high school sister, she went to the girls house to tell her to leave me alone. The drunk father answered the door and told my sister to beat the crap outta his daughter and when she was done - he'd beat her too! I have always had a different viewpoint of bullies ever since. But - they still need consequences for their actions - someone has to tell them it's wrong and punishable! The school system lets these bullied kids down everyday - teachers, administrators, school boards (and busdrivers) - they do nothing to stop the abuse! A parent has to protect their own child or prevent their child from being in a situation where it could happen. Won't stop it all, but could help! I applaud Christa Green for what she did! Mama bear will win this hands down! I can't believe any parent of a child on the bus would want to press charges - must be the busdriver/school system. Way to go Whitwell - tell the bullies that they have free reign! I would also be interested to hear from the bully's parents - did they punish their own child?

September 29, 2011 at 9:01 a.m.
BOOBOO99 said...

The Marion County School system should be on trial not the parent trying to protect her son..First the Bus driver should be fired for not putting an end to bullying. If my child was ever bullied on bus or at school and the school system dont do nothing about.I would take matters in my own hands and do whatever it takes to get justice served!

September 29, 2011 at 10:17 a.m.
CharlesMartel said...

Take the 16 year old who assaulted the deaf man and put him in the stocks in the city square and make him stay there all month. With some luck, he'll be dead from exposure to the elements and night time assaults by the end of his sentence. If he lives, then he will have learned a very valuable lesson, and very well may be deaf himself.

The Bill of Rights is a Liberal document, and there is not "right" from "cruel and unusual punishment".

September 29, 2011 at 12:47 p.m.
EaTn said...

Any decent parent will protect their kids from being bullied regardless of the threat of prosecution. Our country has sunk to the lowest in this instance.

September 29, 2011 at 1:41 p.m.
bryseana said...

He was being bullied and physically abused and she gets charged for standing up for him? Seems really backwards. It's an injustice.

September 29, 2011 at 3:03 p.m.
Echo said...

Shame on the Marion County DA that overcharged this woman and her son. Like the kid doesn't have enough challenges to overcome already? There are plenty of parents and grandparents of developmentally delayed children that have been silently smoldering over this very type of scenario and the ambivalence of schools to educate much less protect special needs students. It is the last form of acceptable bigotry and this will be a lightning rod trial. The judge is already running away.

To the parents of those thugs, your names and photos will hit the internet for sure and no institute of higher learning or the military will take your type of loser. Dr. Mark Griffith will be lucky to be a fry chef after this is over given his comments. Nice job Mr. DA. We can't wait for that trial.

Mrs Green - Don't plead out! Let this go to trial. Read this! There's not Damm way 12 people will find you guilty and that DA loaded up the counts to intimidate you. Make that subhuman DA eat all 16 counts. People of Marion County - The DA represents you! Is this what you are about? Does these charges reflect your values? The nation is watching.

Oh, the principal needs to resign NOW.

Where do I send my Check for the Green's legal defense fund??!! This shall not stand!

September 29, 2011 at 4:01 p.m.
McRand said...

Good post, Echo. I wonder if those in authority would have handled this the same if it had been their child that had been subject to these several periods of being intimidated and ASSAULTED!!? Are these officials of honorable standing, or are they COWARDS!!? We shall see.

September 29, 2011 at 5:04 p.m.
dude_abides said...

L4F, that post is one reason I can never take you seriously when you try to get on your high horse. You are a joke. Somebody needs to put you on your back. What kind of idiot attaches himself to a political ideology and then makes statements like that? If you're going to prove yourself to be a dickhead, why pretend that there is ever any serious thought in that rotten cantaloupe you wear between your ears? libertarians4bullying? Joke.

September 29, 2011 at 8:05 p.m.
HannaBeckman said...

These bus drivers are all pussy-ass trash. And even worse are the local---Cleveland CARTA nasty fat slob bus drivers.

September 29, 2011 at 10:02 p.m.
khargis said...

In my opinion, Stanley Cookston is a coward, and has proven that driving a school bus is above his level of competency. I say fire him. The student who has been raised to punch deaf kids is unfit for life in a polite society, and should be charged with assault, and sent to Taft. Any D.A. who would prosecute this woman, and/or her son, should be dismissed, and ritual sepuku required of him/her. Finally, this woman should sue Marion County for all it's worth (sadly, that's only about $12.17). Good Lord, it's amazing what trash we have driving buses, raising bullies, running schools, and serving as district attorneys.

September 29, 2011 at 11:54 p.m.
khargis said...

In case anyone wants to tell the busdriver, Mr. Cookston, what they think of him:

Stanley W Cookston

(423) 658-2248

130 Higgins Rd, Apt 108

Whitwell, TN 37397-6634

September 29, 2011 at 11:58 p.m.
Grizzlybear34 said...

The one quote sums it up from Griffith. "This is the first incident involving Tavis Green - this year" Good to know the bullying waited for a few weeks before it started up again.

Classic example of the retaliation getting the attention and not the action leading to the retaliation. I agree that a little justice like riding to school in a flashing police cruiser would be a suitable punishment for the bully. Maybe he'll call his mom about that too...

September 30, 2011 at 7:41 a.m.
Grizzlybear34 said...

If you sue Marion County, property taxes will go up again...

September 30, 2011 at 7:44 a.m.
whitwell said...

If anyone new the whole story you would know that this boy has a hearing problem not completely deaf. He also is one to start fights to prevoke other children. Name calling and other thing!

He isn't a child at 18 his is an adult by law. Why is he riding the bus if bulled by 15-16 year olds. His mother should have had enough about her to take it to the shcool board not threating someone elses child. As far a the driver his load on that bus is overloaded! The other bus on that Mountain only carries about 15 children and they are packed like sardines on Stanley's bus. You dont even know if he seen the fight, or knew until it was over. Yeah sue the county that would solve everything! God knows that what is wrong with the world now. A handicap does not justify the behavoir

September 30, 2011 at 2:29 p.m.
jesse said...

maybe the 18 yr. old was runnin his mouth and a 15 yr. old got up side o his face!!!SO he called his MOMMA!

September 30, 2011 at 2:54 p.m.
Jasperparent said...

Hey Whitwell.... You know the whole story? I don't think so. Are you his doctor that has been treating him since he was born? I don't think so. I think that if you are going to "TELL THE WHOLE STORY" you should know what your talking about before you open your pie hole.

This young man has every right to ride a bus that his parents help pay for with the taxes they fork out every payday, and should be able to do so without getting beat on.

If you knew all there was about this young man, you would know that his mother has been to the school board, the school house, & the Superindents office SEVERAL TIMES! Why should he give up his right to public transportation because of idiots like you who think it is ok to punch someone?

The bus driver did see the young man get hit. He said so himself or did you not hear that part? See, you don't know! There was no fight to it, as there was only one person doing the hitting. The kid who threw the punch should be suspended from school not just off the bus for 5 days!!!!!!!!!!

There is one thing that can't be fixed, that would be STUPID and apparently you are eaten up with it. Bless your heart!

September 30, 2011 at 9:07 p.m.
austintfain said...

I do believe the mother was in the right with her the actions she portrayed. And not to mention, she's pretty hot(:

October 8, 2011 at 5:39 p.m.
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