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The Marion County Courthouse is located in Jasper, Tenn.

The woman charged with neglect for making her daughters walk to school on Valley View Highway as punishment for missing the bus didn't appear for her court hearing Monday.

Last month, Lisa Marie Palmer, 32, was issued a citation for driving without a license and child neglect for making her young daughters — both under age 10 — walk along the highway as she drove nearby in her vehicle, but now she faces an arrest warrant for failure to appear in Marion County General Sessions Court, according to court officials.

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Ronnie "Bo" Burnett
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Marion County Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnett said he plans to discuss the case and Palmer's situation with the district attorney's office.

"Right now, there's an active warrant for her arrest," Burnett said. "We're going to speak to the D.A. and find out what we need to do."

Palmer had been cited March 1 for child neglect and driving without a license after Marion County sheriff's deputies responded to a call about two girls with a dog "walking the fog line just south of Ketner Mill Road and a gold Cadillac parked on the shoulder, engine running, just north of Ketner Mill Road," Deputy Chris Ladd's report states.

Palmer, of Chicken Dave Road near Whitwell, told officers the girls were being punished for missing the bus, Burnett said.

"I'm not against punishment but I am concerned about safety," Burnett said Monday.

The officers "tried to handle this as easy as they could, but the officers felt like she put the kids in a dangerous situation," the sheriff said, noting that about 2,000 cars use Valley View Highway daily.

"There's no sidewalk, and state law says you're not allowed to walk the road without a sidewalk," he said. The sheriff said state law prohibits pedestrians from walking on the pavement where vehicles travel and the girls were about a foot into the traffic lane at times.

When they got to the area where the girls were walking, officers observed Palmer and the children about 150 feet apart, with Palmer in the car ahead of them, the report states.

It "appeared as if she was driving ahead of the children and allowing them to walk and catch up to her vehicle and to proceed with that action until the children reached the school," Ladd stated in the report. The officer estimated the girls already had walked about a mile and a half and still had about two more miles to go.

"Temperatures were cold, and traffic was beginning to become heavy with citizens heading to work," Ladd stated. "Mrs. Palmer was in no position to reach her children safely in the event of an emergency."

Palmer didn't have a valid driver's license and couldn't be allowed to drive the girls on to school. Palmer's husband and father-in-law also were at the scene when the woman was issued the citation and other charges were filed against the father-in-law stemming from an alleged altercation with officers.

Burnett said the case is also being investigated by the Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or on Twitter @BenBenton or www.facebook.com/ben. benton1 or 423-757-6569.

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