Emily Pennington

MADISONVILLE A Vonore Elementary School teacher was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia last Thursday after a Monroe County Sheriff’s detective allegedly spotted her speeding in a school zone.

Detective Conway Mason said he saw Emily Jean Pennington, 29, Wind Chase Road, Madisonville, doing 50 mph in a 25 mph school zone and pulled her over.

“I pulled her over on Highway 411 just past Sequoyah High School, Mason said. “She was weaving and caught my attention. It turned out she was on her phone and wasn’t intoxicated. She admitted taking the pills, but she wasn’t high, so I didn’t file a DUI charge.”

Monroe County Director of Schools Tim Blankenship told The Advocate & Democrat on Tuesday that Pennington had been on leave since Sept. 23, two days before her arrest.

The director of schools said Pennington had already missed 12 days this young school year.

“We had addressed that,” Blankenship said. “I told her she would either have to take a leave or she would have to resign. We have to have a teacher in the classroom.”

According to the director of schools, Pennington was supposed to be on leave until January without pay. Mason’s arrest warrant said as he approached Pennington’s car, he saw her making “furtive movements” inside, but he didn’t notice any smell of alcohol. Mason asked Pennington to get out of the car and as she did, Mason said she allegedly looked as if she was hiding something in the front of her pants, which were unbuttoned and unzipped.

Mason asked if he could search the car and was given permission. He said he did not find anything in the car, and when he asked Pennington if she had anything on her, she said she did not have any drugs. But as they stood there talking, Pennington eventually pulled two hypodermic needles from the front of her pants and put them on the hood of Mason’s police car, according to the arrest warrant.

Pennington, a first-grade teacher who taught at Madisonville Primary School last year, said she had used the needles to inject Opana pills, a form of pain killer, prior to the stop, according to Mason. The arresting officer said when pills are melted down, they reach the system quicker than simply swallowing them.

Pennington, charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, was arraigned Monday in Monroe County General Sessions Court and given a hearing date of Oct. 28.

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