Principal treats battery charge as no big deal; judge begs to differ

 

Latest update: Charges dismissed. See story and testimony in hearing here.

Update via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Duncan’s court date has been reset for 2 p.m. Jan. 26, according to a spokesman with the North Magistrate Court of Fulton County.”

See more updates at end of story.

This one’s interesting.  A Fulton County, Georgia principal has been charged with simple battery on a student. At first I thought it was a case of either “chain gang” discipline gone wrong or whiny parents, but upon reading the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s coverage it seems there’s a little more to it than that.

The incident involved Chattahoochee High School Principal Timothy Duncan and a 13-year-old Taylor Middle School student who was doing volunteer work at the high school on Sunday, September 25. Allegedly, the principal saw some kids running in the hall, slammed a boy against the wall, and then, a la Homer Simpson, put his hands around the boy’s throat.

What happened is on security-camera video, and after talking to witnesses, a school system policeman wrote an incident report stating there was “probable cause” to charge the man with battery.  But police didn’t arrest him.

Instead, it was left to the family to swear out a warrant and prosecute the case. (Duncan is due to appear before a magistrate at 10 a.m. today.) Even more interesting, the Fulton County School System sees no reason to discipline the principal or put him on leave. (Although this could change if he was, say, convicted.) This suggests that school officials don’t have much faith in their own police department. It seems that some kind of double standard is involved.

According to the newspaper:

Samantha Evans, a spokeswoman for the Fulton County Schools, said Duncan has remained in his position. She said investigations by the system’s employee relations department and the Department of Family and Children Services found no reason to discipline him.

“That means there is no reason for him to be on any kind of leave,” said Evans, adding that could change depending on the outcome of the case.

“Clearly, any allegation we get, we will take it serious,” Evans said.

The 13-year-old’s mother, Teresa Thomas, said her son attends Taylor Middle School.

“This has taken a toll on him and on my family,” Thomas, a medical administrator from Johns Creek, said. “I just want to see justice for my child. My son is going to be affected for life by this . . . It was totally wrong and something needs to be done about it.”

She said her son is scheduled to attend Chattahoochee High next year but added, “I would be fearful to even have him there.”

So we’ll see how this turns out. To read more, click here.

Update: As it turns out, the principal will have his rescheduled day before the magistrate on January 4. He didn’t take the charge very seriously, either–until he got a warning from the judge to lawyer up.

From ajc.com:

Charged with simple battery, Tim Duncan, the principal of Chattahoochee High School, received a motion for continuance, after he showed up in court Wednesday without an attorney.

“This turned into a much bigger event than I thought it would be,” said Duncan, about his decision, prompted in part by a warning from the judge, to get an attorney. “I feel I will be vindicated.”

Update 2: Timothy Duncan talks to reporters, denies charges.

Update: According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Duncan’s court date has been reset for 2 p.m. Jan. 26, according to a spokesman with the North Magistrate Court of Fulton County. Duncan, a principal at Chattahoochee High School since 2004, was charged with simple battery after allegedly slamming a 13-year-old middle school student against a wall at the high school during a non-school function on Sept. 25.

 

 

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