A Tennessee school board on Thursday voted to recommend the termination of a principal who is now on unpaid suspension after allegedly dragging a special education student by his ankle through a hallway in 2019.
The initial incident took place on Nov. 4, 2019 when an elementary special education student didn’t comply with a request from Walter Hill Elementary principal Helen Campbell, according to Fox 17.
When the student didn’t comply with the request, Campbell and Bonnie Marlar, a teacher, grabbed him by the ankles and proceeded to drag him through the hallways, according to Director of Schools Bill Spurlock.
Child abuse charges were filed against both Campbell and Marlar, but were later dismissed by a judge. The individuals were suspended from their jobs at the elementary school, according to the report.
Spurlock said during a Rutherford County Schools board meeting on Thursday that Campbell’s charges, which range from child abuse to destruction of government property after allegedly attempting to delete security footage of the incident, meet the definition of unprofessional conduct and are grounds for dismissal.
Campbell pleaded no contest to the charges of destruction of government records and neglect, and will complete probation through judicial diversion to dismiss the charges, according to the Daily News Journal.
The report states that the boy who was allegedly dragged through the hallway had autism. Laura Heath is currently serving as the interim principal.
The school board’s attorney shared still images from a recording of the incident, which show the student being dragged through the hallway.
While in the administration office, Campbell and Marlar held the student up by the loopholes on his pants.
After exiting the office, the attorney said that the individuals were pulling him by the wrists and arms. The individuals, according to the attorney, dragged the student for a length of 570 feet, which is almost two football fields, with his shirt “riding up in the back with his bare skin rubbing up against that floor.”
Kate Kasuboski, who is the coordinator of special education at the school district, said that she “did not see any behavior that constitutes an emergency situation,” which would have necessitated the child being restrained. She also added that “dragging a student” by the lengths of “almost two football fields” is “not a proper restraint.”
One board member wasn’t fully on-board with the idea of voting to terminate Campbell, and said that she’s a “phenomenal principal,” and criticized the board for not getting her side of the story.
“This is absolutely disgusting that this would be put on TV and Mrs. Campbell would not be given opportunity to defend (herself),” Sharp said.
“Not one of us on this board have spoken to Miss Campbell. We don’t know the background of this student, we don’t know what his issues were,” Sharp said. “I think its disgusting and I’m sure our teachers that deal with problems like this every day have a chill down their back today and they’re looking for more jobs.”
The school board voted to recommend Campbell’s termination by a vote of 5-2.