Jacksonville, Fla. – The Duval County School District said a staff member had “inappropriate physical contact” with students while trying to break up a fight.
Action News Jax’s Meghan Moriarty first broke the story in February. Video footage taken by other students captured the fight.
Alajaah Brown, 17, is the student in red in the video.
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Deborah Cooper said her granddaughter, Alajaah, was punched and knocked to the ground by high school vice-principal Terry Parker.
“He treated her like a rag doll,” Cooper said.
The district confirmed to Action News Jax on Friday that its employee was wrong thanks to a recently released investigative report. The report says vice-principal Oscar Harris “engaged in inappropriate physical contact” with a student when he tried to break up a fight in the courtyard of Terry Parker High School.
He grabbed one of the students by the neck. Then he punched another student, according to the 44-page report.
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The district report said the allegations against the deputy director were “substantiated,” meaning there is sufficient and credible evidence to support the allegation.
“It was ridiculous,” Cooper said, “I’m just glad that finally the incident report came out, and I reviewed it and I can see it was just totally out of place.”
The report concludes that Harris “had inappropriate physical contact with students when he attempted to break up a fight.” He goes on to say that Harris was punched by a student and “responded by pushing the second student hard in the upper chest.”
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The report added that the students were engaging in a “violent physical altercation” when Harris went to break her up. He said Harris believed a student was “kicking and hitting him” and that a staff member saw a student spit on Harris.
Moriarty asked Cooper about his granddaughter’s behavior prior to the altercation with Harris.
“She didn’t know who was catching, you know, who came catching,” Cooper said. “She just turned around and when she realized it was too late.”
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The Duval County Public Schools Investigation Report said Vice-Principal Harris is trained annually and should be aware that “this method of restraining a student is prohibited.”
This isn’t the first time Harris has had discipline issues. Moriarty went through his more than 300-page personal file in February. The file contains several past complaints.
Harris was given the opportunity to tell his side of the story during the investigation, but declined to be interviewed.
We contacted DCPS to find out if Harris is still employed by the district.
At last check, he was “reassigned to duties not involving students”.
The district spokesperson responded to us and said a response would be forthcoming by Monday.
We will continue to update this developing story.
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