Tennessee school board fires elementary school administrator for dragging autistic child

Two and a half years after footage emerged of her dragging a special education student through school, the principal of an elementary school in Tennessee has been fired.

Helen Campbell was fired Thursday from Walter Hill Elementary in Murfreesboro for “unprofessional conduct, conduct unbecoming, insubordination and lack of duty.”

On Nov. 4, 2019, the unnamed child did not respond to a request from Campbell, according to Rutherford County Schools Superintendent Bill Spurlock.

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

The child was slightly injured. Campbell and teacher Bonnie Marlar have both been charged with child abuse after Marlar helped drag the youngster out.

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

Spurlock accused Campbell of trying to destroy evidence, saying she tried to delete security footage from school cameras.

Campbell did not contest the charge and was placed on probation for a misdemeanor charge.

She entered the same plea, securing a conviction but not admitting guilt, to a charge of negligence.

During a school board meeting on Thursday night, stills from this security video showed Campbell dragging the child by the arm of a chair, grabbing him by his belt and dragging him by the wrists.

Next, they are shown grabbing the boy’s ankles and dragging him to the back of the school. They dragged him a total of 570 feet.

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

A member of the school, Tammy Sharp, pleaded on Campbell’s behalf, saying she was “phenomenal” in her work and said she was convicted in a court of public opinion.

‘None of us on this advice have spoken to Miss Campbell. We don’t know that student’s background, we don’t know what his issues were,” Sharp said. “I think it’s disgusting and I’m sure our teachers who deal with issues like this every day have a shiver down their spines today and are looking for more jobs.”

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

“I saw the video from beginning to end. 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, near of two football pitches is not an IPC technique and is not an appropriate restraint.

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

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Martha K. Merrill