Tuesday 22 May 2018

Primary school principal denies assaulting student (9) and shouting he was 'sick sh*t' of him

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A primary school principal has denied assaulting a nine year old autistic student by dragging him into a classroom and kicking his legs to make him walk unaided.

The principal also denied shouting at the hysterical boy that he was “sick sh*t” of him and his behaviour.

The man, who cannot be identified, was described as “a caring educator” and has been on suspension since the complaint was first made almost two years ago.

The complainant, who was nine years old at the time, is on the autistic spectrum.

Today, two women told Cork Distict Court they contacted Gardaí after witnessing a man drag a screaming child towards a classroom and appear to kick his legs to try and get the youngster to walk unaided.

The women said they saw the man dragging the child from a school yard towards a classroom in June 2014 despite the fact the child kept screaming for his mother.

They said the boy bounced against a wall while this was happening and he started shouting loudly for help.

One woman said she later thought the child was “hysterical” in the classroom.

The women, who contacted Gardaí over the matter, acknowledged that they also confronted the man.

One woman said she was very annoyed with the man and called him 'an animal' at the scene.

The child’s mother was then contacted and attended the school premises.

The two women said they did not know the man was in fact the school principal.

The teacher vehemently denied any suggestion of assaulting the boy and insisted he was only trying to protect him.

He insisted the child was not struck – and explained he had his arm firmly around the boy, which was seen by the two women, only in a bid to deal with the child’s challenging behaviour.

The principal, who gave evidence in his own defence, denied either kicking the boy or pushing him against a wall.

He insisted his efforts were solely to protect the child, himself and other staff members.

The principal’s defence team pointed out that the child had previously engaged in physically disruptive behaviour when being brought into the school in the morning. The teacher apologised for any upset caused but insisted he was only trying to be firm with the child for his protection and that of others.

He added that his suspension had been “very traumatic and worrying” for him and his family.

In evidence, the boy’s mother insisted she never gave permission for her son to be physically restrained.

She also denied she ever received an apology from school officials over the upset caused.

“He could not look me in the eye,” she said.

The trial heard that the boy posed significant management challenges for the school.

The judge was told that the child had run away from the school in question several times before during class time.

He also had a history of highly disruptive issues from two previous schools he had attended.

The incident complained of arose when the defendant was alleged to have confronted the boy and demanded that he go to a classroom for a planned test.

“He dragged me out. Halfway up to the classroom I kept yelling out ‘help’. I did not want it to go on any longer,” the boy said in a Garda interview.

“He dragged me into the classroom. Everyone was looking at me or him - I don’t know. He turned back and yelled at me: ‘I am sick shit of

you’. I was in shock, kind of. He was trying to be a smartass about it,” he added.

The boy complained that marks were left on his arm where he had been grabbed by the teacher.

The child suffers from anxiety issues over being separated from his family.

The boy said that the alleged incidents had left him feeling: “scared, worried and hurt.”

Evidence in the case has concluded and a verdict will be delivered next Monday.

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