Former Principal arrested and charged, remains suspended without pay

WARTBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The former Principal of a Morgan County school was arrested and charged Monday night with child abuse and neglect.

The charges stem from a case that landed Dr. Elizabeth Boyd in hot water with the school district. She was suspended as Principal of Sunbright School late last month for use of corporal punishment the school district deemed "unreasonable and excessive".

She was then demoted to Vice Principal at Central Middle School, but after learning Dr. Boyd is charged with child abuse, Morgan County Director of Schools Dr. Edd Diden said he changed his mind and decided to keep her suspended without pay until the school system consults with its attorneys.

Dr. Diden said he considered the paddling incident a one-time thing.

"We've had a lot of concerns about the safety of the students - I mean, if I had a thought for one moment that there would be any potential harm for students, I'd never have placed her there," said Diden.

He said she wouldn't be allowed to use corporal punishment if she becomes vice principal of Central Middle School.

"If there's any corporal punishment done, the principal is the only one that does it. And she knows that in terms of this situation - as far as her continued work in Morgan County, she can't ever be involved in anything remotely similar to this," said Dr. Diden.

The sister of the boy who was paddled at Sunbright School, along with several other parents, said Dr. Boyd deserves to be fired and attended a school board workshop session at Central Middle School Tuesday night,where the board planned to review its paddling policy.

"My thing is, he's not going to be there to watch her every step, her every move. No one is. When the principal is busy, she has the run of that school. There's no one going to be there that will tell her "No you can't do this," said Rebecca Hall, the student's sister.

Dr. Diden said the school system's paddling policy will remain as-is until the school board finishes reviewing it, which could take two to three months.

Just hours before Dr. Boyd's arrest Monday night, Morgan Co. parents lined Highway 62 to protest the fact that the school board put her back to work at Central Middle School.

The parents planned to circulate a petition and meet with Morgan Co. Schools Director Edd Diden as well.

Their concerns stem from what happened to 5-year-old Lukas Williams, a kindergarten student at Sunbright school. Williams' sister said Dr. Boyd - the principal of Sunbright school - paddled him 8 times for throwing crayons and rocks.

"He was hit really, really hard. He said to us - his exact words that evening was that he was shaking in his shoes. Which to him means that he's running in place because he was hurting so bad," said Rebecca Hall, Williams' sister.

"I don't think she should be working with kids. If she can whoop a kindergartener like that, she does not need to be in the school system working with any child," said Wendy Hawn, a concerned parent.

"This just isn't right and we're not going to stand for it," said Hall.

"I hope it'll send a message to Dr. Diden that you know, he's made a mistake. All we can do is hope that it will - all we can do is try really," said Amanda Robinson, a concerned parent.

The parents said corporal punishment is legal in the school system, but only with parental permission. Lukas Williams' mother said she never signed a permission slip for her son to be paddled and said she's now home schooling him.

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