Teacher ac­cused of as­sault re­signs

Wal­ston al­legedly slapped 11-year-old

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Michelle Kim

A Mid­dle Ridge El­e­men­tary school teacher ar­rested for al­legedly as­sault­ing a stu­dent has ten­dered his res­ig­na­tion, ac­cord­ing to the New­ton County School Sys­tem.

Samuel Wal­ston, 43, of Litho­nia, a fourth grade teacher at Mid­dle Ridge El­e­men­tary School, was ar­rested on Feb. 9 and charged with sim­ple bat­tery mis­de­meanor. He was bonded out the same day for $1,000.

He al­legedly slapped the face of one of his 11-year-old stu­dents in a school bath­room on Feb. 5, which was wit­nessed by two other stu­dents, said Inves- tiga­tor Sharon Ste­wart of the New­ton County S h e r i ff ’s Of­fice. The stu­dents then went to school ad­min­is­tra­tors, who made the de­ter­mi­na­tion to call the Sher­iff’s Of­fice, said Ste­wart.

Ac­cord­ing to the stu­dent’s mother, the stu­dent had gone to the bath­room af­ter look­ing for Wal­ston and be­ing un­able to find him.

Wal­ston had come look­ing for the stu­dent and al­legedly grabbed the stu­dent by the shirt, lift­ing him against the wall, and slapped him with an open hand.

Ste­wart said there was no men­tion of the stu­dent re­sist­ing.

Wal­ston told the NCSO the stu­dent had been pulled from the class­room to­wards the end of the day to keep him from dis­rupt­ing the class, said Ste­wart. Wal­ston said he had only used two fin­gers to keep from bump­ing into the child, who backed away on his own ac­cord and made self-con­tact with the wall. Af­ter that hap­pened, Wal­ston said he asked the stu­dent if he needed to see the nurse, which the stu­dent turned down.

There were no vis­i­ble marks on the stu­dent.

Wal­ston turned him­self in on Satur­day to the NCSO.

Dr. Steven What­ley, su­per­in­ten­dent of New­ton County Schools, said he wasn’t able to dis­cuss the specifics of the case. “It’s a per­son­nel mat­ter,” he said. “We’re aware of the ar­rest re­port. We’re co­op­er­at­ing with law en­force­ment.”

He said Wal­ston, who was in his first year of teach­ing for the New­ton County School Sys­tem, had ten­dered his res­ig­na­tion.

Mid­dle Ridge El­e­men­tary School Prin­ci­pal Karen Crow­der de­clined to com­ment, di­rect­ing ques­tions to Pub­lic Re­la­tions Di­rec­tor Sherri Viniard, who de­flected in­quiries to What­ley.

A call to Wal­ston’s phone num­ber was an­swered by a male re­fus­ing to give his name, who claimed it was a shared dorm phone, even though the num­ber was listed in the phone book as a South­west­ern Bell mo­bile num­ber.

Wal­ston had pre­vi­ously taught first grade in Hamp­ton, Va., and had been em­ployed by the Hamp­ton City Schools di­vi­sion from Au­gust 1999 to June 2006. He earned a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in ac­count­ing from Nor­folk State Univer­sity, Va., in 1998.

The mother of the 11-yearold stu­dent said her son was di­ag­nosed with at­ten­tion deficit-hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der and ob­ses­sive-com­pul­sive dis­or­der and is con­sid­ered a spe­cial needs child. She said she was con­cerned that he had to be trans­ferred out of Wal­ston’s class, which was for spe­cial needs stu­dents, to a reg­u­lar ed­u­ca­tion class­room.

Orig­i­nally, she had looked for­ward to hav­ing Wal­ston as her son’s teacher.

“I was glad he had a male teacher be­cause he had never had a male teacher,” she said.

But now, she said her son had ter­ri­ble night­mares of be­ing locked in a trunk by his teacher.

She said she still had not heard back from school ad­min­is­tra­tors about the in­ci­dent. “It’s frus­trat­ing more than any­thing,” she said.

The case is still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the NCSO and a court date has not been set.

The New­ton County Schools’ pol­icy on cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment, which was last re­vised in 1991, states that it would be con­sid­ered ap­pro­pri­ate “only in cases of ma­jor in­frac­tions of school rules and pol­icy and only af­ter con­sid­er­a­tion of other al­ter­na­tives.” It goes on to say cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment must be ad­min­is­tered by the prin­ci­pal, as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal or prin­ci­pal’s de­signee in a private space out of view of other stu­dents with at least one other adult school em­ployee present. Par­ents can pro­hibit the use of cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment for their child but must do so in writ­ing.

The school sys­tem pol­icy also states, “A teacher shall have the author­ity, con­sis­tent with board pol­icy, to man­age his or her class­room, dis­ci­pline stu­dents and re­fer a stu­dent to the prin­ci­pal or his de­signee to main­tain dis­ci­pline in the class­room.”

School poli­cies can be viewed on the school sys­tem’s Web site, www. new­ton­coun­tyschools. org/poli­cies.

WAL­STON

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