Principle Fired Three Years After Dragging Student Across School By His Ankles

By Erika Hanson | Published

Tennessee principal

In a growing occurrence, teachers and school staff are reporting unruly behavior among students. The issue is so dire in some cases, that teachers are speaking out about that fear, sounding the alarm. However, this uptick in violent natures does not give educators the right to police children in their own matter, and there is also an increasing issue with how schools are disciplining bad behavior, oftentimes putting young children at risk of injury. The recent case of a Tennessee principal who dragged an autistic student by the ankles across a school after he failed to listen to her is the perfect example of this increasing dilemma. 

According to reports from Fox17 News, a Tennessee principal was just fired for her actions that occurred inside the halls of Walter Hill Elementary back in 2019. On November 4th, 2019, the school official, Helen Campbell, and a special education teacher dragged a middle schooler by his ankles across the school. Fox reports that the boy was autistic. Likewise, they say that he sustained bruises and injuries, as the two school officials dragged him in this manner nearly 570 feet or the length of nearly two football fields.

The decision was voted through in a recommendation to fire the Tennessee principal during a Middle Tennesee school board meeting.  Making the announcement on Thursday, May 26th, they cited their reason for firing her as a matter of unprofessional conduct, conduct unbecoming, insubordination, and neglect of duty. The decision was voted in a 5-2 vote, with some board members showing support to keep Campbell on as the middle school principal. 

Board member Tammy Sharp criticized the decision to fire the Tennessee principal, calling her a“phenomenal” educator. She also questioned the autistic boy’s history, insinuating that he may have deserved the abuse. Despite her viewpoint, the board shared video footage stills and more disturbing evidence that backed up their decision to terminate her.

Images depicted the incident showed the Tennessee principal forcibly pulling the student by his arm out of a chair. They also revealed her grabbing him by the belt and dragging him by the wrists out of her office. Others show her and the teacher dragging his body across the floor as they hold him by his ankles. Reports state that he sustained minor injuries. 

To further display wrongdoing in the actions of the Tennessee principal, Kate Kasubowski, the coordinator of special education within the school district, said that she had no inclination of any sort of behavior on the boy’s part that would constitute an emergency situation. Additionally, she pointed out that dragging students is not an approved restrain measure. Child abuse charges were filed against Campbell. However, they were later dismissed by a judge.

The Tennessee principal, along with the special education teacher had both been suspended from their jobs following the incident. Entering a plea deal, Campbell continued to plead not guilty to the matter, despite accusations that she also destroyed video footage and tampered with investigation evidence. She is now serving a probation sentence through judicial diversion. Afterward, she will be dismissed from her charges.

Tennessee principal

Statistics on autistic child abuse are alarming and show a growing trend found in education. On average, 18.5% of all children with autism will at some point be physically abused. It is because of this that more education officials are calling for added support and training for teachers working with special needs students. There is already a startling rate at which schools are struggling to find special education teachers, and this case with a Tennessee principal further proves the need for more experts in the field.