Phenix City teacher jailed for taping students together

A Phenix City teacher was jailed on felony charges today for taping together two students who were not getting along, authorities said. Sierra Pettway, 24, was charged with two counts of willful abuse of a child.

The charges stemmed from an investigation this week by the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

Pettway, a first-year teacher at Phenix City Intermediate School, self-reported the incident to school officials on Tuesday, said Superintendent Larry E. DiChiara.

Pettway allegedly wrapped together the forearms of a sixth grade boy and girl "so they would have to sit arm to arm," DiChiara said, adding the students had been "picking on each other."

"She later thought to herself that that probably wasn't wise," DiChiara said. The boy had some bruising, he said, where he apparently had been "digging under the tape."

"The little boy told the principal that it’s because the tape was tight," DiChiara said. DHR conducted an investigation over the course of two days before the charges were filed, officials said.

Phenix City Police Chief Ray Smith said the parents of the children "pushed for the charges."

"We are still working the investigation," he said.

DiChiara said Pettway has been placed on administrative leave. She was released from the Russell County Jail today on $10,000 bond, jail officials said.

A woman who answered the phone this afternoon at Pettway's residence said she was unavailable for comment.