Rutherford County Schools board votes to fire principal accused of dragging student through hallway – Daily News Journal

A split Rutherford County Board of Education agreed to fire former Walter Hill Elementary principal Helen Campbell on a child abuse charge.
Authorities accused Campbell of dragging a special needs student by his ankles through long school hallways based on video evidence presented to the board. 
Director Bill Spurlock recommended the termination of Campbell on the grounds of “unprofessional conduct, conduct unbecoming to a member of the teaching profession, insubordination and neglect of duty.”
The board voted 4-2 to fire Campbell, who was charged with criminal child abuse and endangerment in the November 2019 incident. Board members Tammy Sharp and Claire Maxwell opposed.
“This is absolutely disgusting that this would be put on TV and Mrs. Campbell would not be given opportunity to defend (herself),” Sharp said. 
Board members Jim Estes, Tim Holden, Coy Young and board chairwoman Tiffany Johnson voted in favor of firing Campbell. Shelia Bratton recused herself from the vote due to a long-standing friendship with the Campbell family.
Campbell can seek an appeal of the board’s decision. 
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READ THIS:Former Walter Hill Elementary educators accused of child abuse accept judicial diversion
Special education teacher Bonnie Marlar, who assisted Campbell during the incident involving a child, was also charged.
An arrest warrant, based on video evidence, accused the Walter Hill educators of dragging a 10-year-old boy by the ankles through a school hallway, nearly the length of two football fields, and causing minor injuries to the child on Nov. 4, 2019. A lawsuit filed against the educators in 2020 revealed the child has autism
Charges were initially dismissed February 2020 by General Sessions Court Judge Lisa Eischeid. Both educators, however, then faced grand jury indictments a few months later accusing them with child abuse/neglect and endangerment pertaining to a child over 8. 
Initially, Campbell also faced a Class C felony charge of tampering with video evidence. The former principal’s charge, however, was amended to attempted destruction of government records, a Class A misdemeanor.
Both educators are on probation after accepting diversion from Circuit Court Judge James “Jimmy” Sullivan. 
Those eligible for judicial diversion cannot have a prior criminal record. Anyone completing probation while on judicial diversion can have cases dismissed and records expunged by a judge. If they do not complete probation conditions or face new charges, they can be brought back before the judge and found guilty and sentenced on original charges. 
Campbell is serving two years of unsupervised probation after pleading no contest to the charges. She is scheduled to complete part of her probation in the child abuse/neglect and endangerment charge on Jan. 30, 2023 — after accepting judicial diversion from Judge Turner on Jan. 31, 2022. 
Campbell is scheduled to serve the next part of her probation on the attempted destruction of government records charge from Jan. 31, 2023, to Jan. 30, 2024. 
Marlar will complete her unsupervised probation on Oct. 14, 2022  — after pleading no contest and accepting judicial diversion from Judge Turner on Oct. 15, 2021.
Campbell served as Walter Hill principal from the start of the 2013-14 school year until she was suspended without pay in November 2019 by the schools director. Spurlock then appointed Laura Heath to serve as interim principal until the investigation was completed.  
Spurlock also disciplined Marlar with an unpaid suspension. Her contract was later not renewed as a teacher without tenure, which provides extra job security. Campbell had tenure and remained initially on unpaid suspension.
Reach reporter Nancy DeGennaro at Reach reporter Scott Broden at


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