NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -- A teacher at McGavock High School has been charged with animal cruelty after an emu kept by the school died after being found in poor health during a surprise inspection.

Metro's Health Department and Animal Control have been conducting random inspections of the school-run biology and farm care program. There are numerous animals under the program's care.

The teacher, identified as Jessie Lumpkins, was also cited in March of this year for animal cruelty after several alpacas died on campus, prompting an inspection.

Today's charge stems from an inspection conducted Tuesday, where the Department of Health and Metro Animal Control found an emu in very poor health. The officials recommended the bird be transported to veterinary care immediately.

A follow-up inspection conducted today resulted in the discovery that the emu is dead, as it had not been taken in for medical care.

The following statement was released to News 4 by the school:

"These charges of animal cruelty are disheartening and show a breakdown in the process setup to ensure the welfare of animals within MNPS care at McGavock High School. A different teacher has been assigned to care for the animals at this facility until they can be relocated to a safe environment. It is the hope of the school and administrators that this important program can be continued for the sake of the students, but not until we can work with animal welfare specialists to determine the causes of this problem and develop a mutually agreed upon solution that guarantees the safety of these or future animals."

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