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Tennessee elementary school principal is fired by board for dragging autistic boy, 11, by his feet

Tennessee elementary school principal fired by board for dragging autistic boy, 11, by feet through school hallways with teacher’s help after he misbehaved

  • Helen Campbell was fired for “unprofessional conduct, misconduct, insubordination and dereliction of duty” from Walter Hill Elementary School.
  • Rutherford County Schools Director Bill Spurlock said that on November 4, 2019, the student did not comply with a request from Campbell.
  • He then grabbed the student by the ankles and dragged him down the school hallway.
  • The boy sustained minor injuries. Both Campbell and teacher Bonnie Marlar filed child abuse charges against him.
  • The charges were ultimately dismissed by a judge. Campbell and Marlar were suspended and no decision has been made regarding Marlar’s status.
  • Campbell’s firing was ultimately approved by a 5-2 vote, with one board member criticizing the decision. She can appeal the decision.

The principal of a Tennessee elementary school was fired two and a half years after a video surfaced of her dragging a special education student around the school.

Helen Campbell was fired for “unprofessional conduct, improper conduct, insubordination and dereliction of duty” from Walter Hill Elementary School in Murfreesboro on Thursday.

Rutherford County Schools Director Bill Spurlock said that on November 4, 2019, the unnamed student did not comply with a request from Campbell.

He then grabbed the student by the ankles and dragged him down the school hallway for 570 feet, the length of two football fields.

The boy sustained minor injuries. Both Campbell and teacher Bonnie Marlar were charged with child abuse after Marlar helped drag the boy.

Helen Campbell was fired for

Helen Campbell was fired for “unprofessional conduct, improper conduct, insubordination and dereliction of duty” from Walter Hill Elementary School in Murfreesboro on Thursday.

Rutherford County Schools Director Bill Spurlock said that on November 4, 2019, the student did not comply with a request from Campbell.  He then grabbed the student by the ankles and dragged him down the school hallway.

Rutherford County Schools Director Bill Spurlock said that on November 4, 2019, the student did not comply with a request from Campbell. He then grabbed the student by the ankles and dragged him down the school hallway.

Footage from that security video showed Campbell and Marlar pulling the boy's arm from a chair, grabbing him by the belt and dragging him by the wrists before dragging him by the ankles into the hallway.

Footage from that security video showed Campbell and Marlar pulling the boy’s arm from a chair, grabbing him by the belt and dragging him by the wrists before dragging him by the ankles into the hallway.

They are then shown grabbing the boy's ankles and dragging him towards the back of the school.

They are then shown grabbing the boy’s ankles and dragging him towards the back of the school.

The charges were ultimately dismissed by a judge. Campbell and Marlar were suspended and no decision has been made about Marlar’s future at the school.

Spurlock accused Campbell of trying to destroy evidence and said he tried to erase security footage from the school’s cameras.

Campbell did not contest the charge and received probation on a misdemeanor charge.

She issued the same plea, guaranteeing a conviction but not admitting guilt, to one count of negligence.

At a Thursday night board of education meeting, stills from that security video showed Campbell yanking the boy’s arm from a chair, grabbing him by the belt and dragging him by the wrists.

They are then shown grabbing the boy’s ankles and dragging him towards the back of the school. They dragged him a total of 570 feet.

Campbell and Bonnie Marlar (pictured) were suspended and no decision has been made on Marlar's status

Campbell and Bonnie Marlar (pictured) were suspended and no decision has been made on Marlar’s status

County Schools Director Bill Spurlock (pictured left) accused Campbell of trying to destroy evidence, saying she tried to erase security footage from the school's cameras and recommended that she be fired.

County Schools Director Bill Spurlock (pictured left) accused Campbell of trying to destroy evidence, saying she tried to erase security footage from the school’s cameras and recommended that she be fired.

A member of the school, Tammy Sharp, argued on Campbell’s behalf, saying she was “phenomenal” at her job and said a court of public opinion will convict her.

None of the members of this board have spoken to Miss Campbell. We don’t know this student’s background, we don’t know what his problems were,” Sharp said. “I think it’s disgusting and I’m sure our teachers who deal with problems like this every day have a chill down their spine today and are looking for more jobs.”

A special needs student administrator for the school district spoke at the meeting.

I have watched the video from start to finish. I did not see any behavior that constitutes emergency behavior, dragging the student from the front to the back of the building to the common room, almost two football fields is not a CPI technique and is not an appropriate restraint.’

Campbell’s firing was ultimately approved by a 5-2 vote. She can appeal the decision.

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