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Report: Principal admits pushing student, denies name calling

Published On: Mar 06 2014 04:03:09 PM CST
Updated On: Mar 06 2014 04:29:08 PM CST

Harmony Elementary School in Milton

JANESVILLE, Wis. -

A Janesville police report about the principal at Harmony Elementary School includes testimony from witnesses who said she pushed a 7-year-old special needs student against a wall.

Jeanne Smith is on paid administrative leave from the Milton School District after the Feb. 18 incident.

Janesville police said two aides reported to district administration that there was some physical restraint on Smith’s part that they weren’t sure was appropriate. Officers investigated the report and determined there was not probable cause to charge Smith with a crime.

The report said on the date of the incident, the boy became disruptive in the classroom and two aides took him to a seclusion room near the principal’s office. They said they removed the boy’s shoes to prevent him from kicking the door.

The aides told police Smith said, “I’m going to antagonize him,” before going into the room and making him sit down against a wall with his legs crossed. They said she stepped on one of his ankles to keep from getting kicked.

One of the witnesses told police they heard Smith yell comments similar to, “You’re a rotten kid,” and “I don’t care.” She also heard the boy yell, “You’re hurting me.”

They told police Smith then left the room when a parent arrived in the office and the situation calmed down.

Smith admitted to grabbing the boy's ankles and pushing him into a corner but denied calling him “rotten.” She said she might have used the word “antagonize,” but didn’t specifically recall saying she was going to antagonize him.

A detective didn’t find any evidence of injuries to the boy.

The report states Smith was put on leave within a day of the incident and that she had submitted a resignation before the incident and is expected to resign at the end of the year.

The boy’s father, Josh Hooker, said he moved his family to the Milton School District after hearing how well they handled children with autism. He said his son is high functioning, but occasionally has meltdowns in class.

“It's been a wonderful experience up until this point,” Hooker said.

District administrator Tim Schigur said the school board accepted Smith's resignation letter Jan. 27 as she plans to retire at the end of this year. She is on administrative leave until the district’s investigation is complete.

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