Aldermen side with tutor
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, October 19, 2016
The Poplarville Board of Aldermen met Tuesday evening to discuss concerns expressed by a large group of citizens about a private tutoring service.
Kimera Torrence has been tutoring children with disabilities in Poplarville for over 11 years at her home on N. Jackson Street.
Since establishing her private contract tutoring service, Torrence said she has been harassed by her neighbor, Jim Brown, who has complained about noise and inconveniences incurred.
Torrence was presented with a letter from a lawyer representing her neighbor stating she was violating city ordinances by operating a school in an R-1 zone, and that if she did not cease and desist, they would pursue legal action, Rev. Jimmy Richardson said, who was speaking on behalf of Torrence.
Board Attorney Nick Thompson said schools are allowed to operate in any of the city’s zones, however, Torrence is privately contracting with each family as an individual, meaning her business should be located in C-1, C-3 and C-4 zones only, according to city ordinances.
However, Torrence was operating her services prior to the adoption of that ordinance in March, 2011, thereby granting her “prior existing lawful non-compliance use,” Thompson said.
Several parents and grandparents of children Torrence serves spoke on her behalf during Tuesday’s Board meeting, saying they felt threatened by Brown and feared for the safety of their children.
Hudson Holliday spoke first, stating his granddaughter is tutored by Torrence, and she “provides a great service to this community…and the city needs to take a stand on this.”
Richardson, who also has a grandchild receiving Torrence’s services, spoke on Torrence’s behalf as well, saying they have come before the Board in the past about the issue.
“We thought that that would stop all of the harassment but it has not,” Richardson said.
“This started in 2005 when I moved here, it escalated in 2011,” Torrence said. “I’ve never dealt with this before, I’ve never dealt with someone that can be this mad this long.”
Richardson said Brown has been taking pictures of the young children, threatening violence against the children, making false accusations about parents committing crimes on the property and claiming he has been unable to access his home.
She said she has felt threatened enough to purchase a firearm and receive the proper training to protect herself and her students.
The Board approved a proclamation stating Torrence was in compliance with city ordinances to operate a school and or tutoring service out of her home.
“His behavior is a behavior that was taught to him, he was taught to hate,” said Poplarville Mayor Brad Necaise. “This diverse crowd is a good representation of how far we’ve come to stop the hate.”
Other matters discussed by the Board will be published in Thursday’s Item.