Andria James had nine children in her Chevy Malibu, according to police. A customer at a Speedway gas station reported seeing three of the kids, about 9 to 10 years old, get out of the trunk on Sunday.
"It's very saddening and heartbreaking ... that an adult would put other people's children or children in harm's way like that," said La Vergne police Sgt. Bob Hayes. La Vergne is about 20 miles southeast of Nashville.
James has denied the claims.
"There were never nine in my car or in the store. Never," she told CNN affiliate WKRN
. "That's a complete and utter lie."
But surveillance video from the Speedway tells a different story, according to Hayes.
"(We were) able to view video footage of the gas pumps and observe the vehicle pull up to the gas pump and three children exited the trunk of the vehicle once it stopped at the gas pump," he said.
James said she picked the kids up after a basketball game on Saturday and they spent the night at her La Vergne home.
The Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools has put her on administrative leave while an investigation is conducted, Joseph Bass, a school district spokesman, said.
"Obviously, the acts she is accused of are completely inappropriate for an educator entrusted with caring for students, and we will take further disciplinary action if needed as more details come to light," the district said in a statement.