Two Central High administrators on leave following separate incidents involving students

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Two assistant principals at Central High School in Providence have been placed on paid administrative leave after they were involved in separate violent incidents involving students Monday.

Laura Hart, a spokesperson for the school district, confirmed Wednesday the two administrators were put on leave immediately following the unrelated altercations.

“We at Providence Public Schools were alarmed and dismayed by the physical altercation in the cafeteria at Central High School on Monday involving a student and an assistant principal,” Hart said in a statement. “The district immediately contacted the police and put the assistant principal on administrative leave, pending a personnel review. Additionally, the school district has explicitly requested that police investigate the incident in its entirety.”

Hart said both of the incidents involved “student misconduct.” In one case, a staff member was allegedly elbowed by a student. In the other case, Hart said an assistant principal attempted to intervene in a fight between two students.

Hart declined to provide further context for the incidents, citing pending investigations.

One of the incidents was captured on video and sent to newsrooms across the state. The video shows an adult holding a young male on the ground.  A 15-year-old male involved in that incident was charged with two counts of simple assault related to one of the matters, according to Lindsay Lague, a spokesperson for the police department.

The mother of the student in the video told Eyewitness News that her son has not been back to school since the incident.

“I’m still in shock that all this is going on,” she said. “My son has epilepsy, so if he’s telling you that he can’t breathe, why would you put your knee on his chest?”

She also said she is shocked that her son has been charged and that no one helped her son during the incident.

“Instead of anyone trying to help him out when it was going on, everybody sits there, just pulling out their cameras,” she said.

She said she has a meeting with school officials on Thursday to discuss whether her son can return to school or not.

After the video was released, the Providence Student Union sent out a statement asking for a public apology and the removal of the assistant principal involved in the video.

A spokesman for the Providence Student Union said students are more interested in the acknowledgement that the school department is failing and that they will take steps to improve.

“(Students are) not really satisfied with firing this administrator, if it just means that they are replaced with another one who might continue the numerous instances of physical and emotional harassment students have reported over the years, but that haven’t had video exposure,” the spokesman said.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan