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Principal accused of excessive paddling faces charges of child abuse, neglect

8:38 PM, Sep 24, 2012   |    comments
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A Morgan County principal who was suspended for excessively spanking a student with a paddle has now been charged with child abuse and neglect following a Morgan County Sheriff's Office investigation. She is out on bond.

Monday, she had started back at work at a new school. Her placement sparked outrage and protests from some parents.

Dr. Elizabeth Boyd was the principal at Sunbright Elementary School before a parent filed a complaint about her using severe corporal punishment against her son.

The mother of Lukas Williams says her son had been in school eight days this school year when the principal pulled him in her office for allegedly throwing crayons. Lukas' mother says Boyd swatted Lukas eight times with a paddle.

Morgan County Schools looked into the incident and removed Boyd from Sunbright Elementary. She had been suspended indefinitely on August 31st.

Director of Schools Edd Diden moved Boyd from her principal position at Sunbright Elementary after he finished his investigation. He moved her to the assistant principal position at Central Middle School.

Monday, about a dozen parents protested outside of that school. They want Diden to fire Dr. Boyd because they say they don't feel their children are safe.

"She needs to go. She needs to lose her teaching credentials. She doesn't need that. This is for the safety of our kids, this isn't just about the safety of my child. It's about the safety of every child in this county. We want her out of Morgan County," said Sandra Hall, Lukas' mother.

At the protest Monday morning, Hall said she gave Boyd verbal permission to swat her son once if he acted out. But she said Boyd was too severe and that her son was deeply bruised.

The school district's investigation found Boyd was too excessive, and decided to relocate her.

Corporal punishment is legal in Tennessee, but each district is allowed to set their own policies about it.

Mr. Diden says teachers and administrators in Morgan County are allowed to use corporal punishment as a last resort. He also says this was not an ongoing problem with Boyd, just a one-time incident.

"At this point we want to put her to work at Central Middle and transition her into her duties. We hope the parents will understand it will take her a few days to get adjusted, but I think they'll find she's a very good educator," said Diden.

Diden says the county is re-considering changing its policy on corporal punishment. That is the focus of a meeting scheduled for Tuesday night, and also next week at the school board's regular meeting.

At this time, we do not know if the charges will affect Dr. Boyd's employment status at Central Middle School.

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