HOUSTON -- The Fondren Middle School teacher who was arrested for having a loaded gun in her car last week says she didn’t do anything wrong.
Charetta Kemp was taken away from the school in handcuffs last Friday. Charges have since been dropped, but the ordeal cost Kemp her job and her reputation.
The 28-year-old says she wants the public to know the real story.
“I just want everyone to know that I’m a good person,” explained Charetta Kemp. “It was just blown way out of proportion. It was the not the way everybody perceived it to be.”
Kemp says she’s been substitute teaching since 2006.
She started working at Fondren Middle School in August of 2011. Her position changed from tutor to instructional specialist to science teacher.
Kemp recalls feeling like everything was falling into place in her career.
“Kids are my passion. I love kids, and the kids were always safe,” she said.
In just one day, all of that changed. Kemp found herself being questioned by school police after accusations that she had a loaded gun on the school’s campus. Kemp says she cooperated and led officers to the gun inside her locked car.
Kemp was subsequently charged with a third-degree felony charge of possession of a prohibited weapon.
“The whole time I was in handcuffs, I was singing a song. It was a gospel song, and I kept on singing it. He keeps on blessing me,” she recalled. “Everybody that I go to church with, everybody that knows me, they knew automatically that something was wrong. There was some information that was missing.”
Kemp appeared in court this week, and now that the criminal case is over, she wants to clear her name.
She says the loaded 9mm was in her trunk and not in her glove compartment as previously reported. She says a janitor, who also works at the school, put it there the night before. She claims the gun belongs to him.
According to Kemp, he was planning on coming home with her on the day she was arrested.
“He was planning on coming home with me Friday to meet my mom, and that was it,” she said.
However, Kemp says his girlfriend found out about it. Kemp claims he got cold feet about the trip to her family’s house and asked to have his gun back.
She says she refused because they were at the school.
“He came to school and literally told them the gun was in my car. There was no anonymous tip at all. Of course I didn’t want to give it to him on campus.”
As Kemp was questioned by school police, the school went into lockdown.
The ordeal that followed hit a nerve with several guns rights activists.
“There is a parking lot law, which allows people to have a weapon within their vehicle at their place of work,” said Alexander Shaskevich, Harris County Republican Party Precinct Chair.
That law excludes school districts.
“For her to be put through this kind of mess is ridiculous. That’s why we need to have a change in laws,” added Shaskevich.
In the end, Kemp says the courts determined the gun inside her car was not on the school’s campus.
State law bans guns on school campuses, but it does not extend to the parking lot.
On the other hand, Houston ISD has a zero-tolerance policy for guns on campus. That includes the parking lot of the school.
“I hope that the government, the law, can come up with some type of way to get common ground,” said Kemp. “It wasn’t on the premises because it wasn’t on my body. I didn’t have it in the school. It was in my car in the parking lot. It was safe.”
Kemp says HISD has not asked her to come back and teach. She’s now considering pursuing a career as an academic counselor.