MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — School officials held a press conference Thursday after several videos went viral showing an altercation between a James Clemens administrator and a student.
Madison City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols addressed Wednesday’s incident, where a school administrator can be seen on cell phone video arguing with a female student on a school bus. That argument eventually became physical.
Footage taken from inside the bus shows a male administrator grabbing the female student’s neck, after which his hand raises and slaps her. The school bus erupts with action as several students and others step in.
The scene develops into a giant tussle with shouting coming from every direction. Cell phones are out as everyone attempts to record the situation.
According to Nichols, the bus driver had called for assistance from the school’s administrative team around 3:40 p.m. on Wednesday, saying two students on board the bus had a “physical altercation.”
Nichols said the administrative team responded and tried to separate the students. One was taken off the bus, but Nichols said the other student assaulted an administrator when they tried to take her off the bus.
The following is Nichols’ description of the event:
“[The administrator was] hit 6-10 times to the back of their head. They were also bitten and it broke the administrator’s jacket and broke skin. [That administrator] says the video that is out only shows about 3 seconds of a 3-minute event. The administrator after being assaulted felt the need to defend themself and did so. He said he believes the administrators should have an opportunity to defend themselves if they feel like they are at risk of being harmed or further injured. The administrators followed through the protocol for situations like this very well until they were being assaulted.”Dr. Ed Nichols
The MCS policy concerning physical restraint of a student states, “The purpose of this policy is to provide for the appropriate use of physical restraint only when needed to protect a student and/or member of the school community from imminent, serious physical harm, to prevent or minimize any harm to a student as a result of the use of physical restraint, and to prohibit other inappropriate forms of restraint.”
The policy continues, “It is the intent of this policy to emphasize and encourage the use of techniques for the prevention and de-escalation of inappropriate behavior, in order to reduce the risk of injury to students and program staff, as well as facilitate the care, safety, and welfare of students.”
The Limestone County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) was contacted on Thursday to look further into the incident to follow protocol, Nichols said, since a staff member was assaulted.
Both students involved in the initial altercation have been suspended, according to Nichols, who added that all video footage will be reviewed before “further discipline is decided.”
Nichols said no administrator or staff involved will be disciplined at this time.
A report was also filed with the Madison Police Department, which Nichols said will be following up with the LCSO for a full investigation.
The administrative staff was said to have met with the families of the students, with MPD taking statements from the students involved and talking to both families.
Nichols added that any disciplinary actions for other students that tried to separate or defuse the situation “hasn’t been decided yet.”
In the end, Nichols said, “I’m never going to tell someone [that] if they are being assaulted, that they can’t defend themselves from further harm.”