Ninth-grader charged with assaulting teachers

Kevin Spradlin Richmond County Daily Journal

November 6, 2013

A Richmond County Ninth Grade Academy student faces charges for her role in an alleged assault that sent two teachers to the hospital.

As classes changed over at about 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, an argument between two female students that had been limited to text messages turned physical in the hallway. Superintendent George Norris said as the two girls fought, staff quickly moved to intervene.

“An assistant principal was there,” Norris said, and that person “apparently got a little scared and called 911.”

Deputies from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office responded by were largely observers, Norris said.

Bob Steele, the school resource officer, and math teachers Jim Smith and Kathy Collins were involved in breaking up the fight.

One of the girls was handcuffed, restrained, separated and no longer caused an issue. Norris said the other student was about to be handcuffed — Steele, he said, held the girl’s arms and handed the cuffs to a teacher to place them on the girl. The girl struggled, so Smith and Collins helped escort the girl into a nearby office.

Norris said, the girl was “out of control” and somehow managed to escape.

Collins had been in the doorway, Norris said, bent over from being out of breath. That’s when the girl darted from the office and ran into and past both Collins and Smith.

Norris said Collins bumped her head in the fall while Smith seemed to have injured his back. Both teachers were taken to FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital for treatment in the emergency room. Both were treated and released by noon, Norris said.

Norris said both teachers were at work Wednesday, a day off for students and a training day for teachers. However, Smith had complained of soreness and was sent home.

“Neither of the kids were injured,” Norris said.

Norris emphasized the safety of students and said that “school safety is really important. This is not an everyday occurrence.”

Under the school district’s code of conduct, fighting fellow students can result in up to 10 days out-of-school suspension on a first offense. It was unclear whether this was either student’s first offense.

The charges became mandatory, Norris said, when the student made contact with staff.

“It’s a different thing when you assault a school employee,” Norris said.

A 10-day suspension is inevitable, and law enforcement must be notified if it already isn’t. The student is subject to criminal prosecution, according to the code of conduct. The student also could face a long-term suspension, Norris said.

Details of the students’ individual disciplinary actions, including their names, are private and will not be disclosed unless charged as an adult in a court of law.