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Education commissioner approves firing of Little Rock school principal charged with assault

by Nyssa Kruse | August 30, 2019 at 12:22 p.m.
FILE — Little Rock School District headquarters are shown in this 2019 file photo.

The principal of Mabelvale Middle School charged this month with misdemeanor assault has been fired, a Department of Education spokeswoman said Friday.

Because Little Rock schools are under state control, Rhonda Hall's termination became official Friday when Commissioner of Education Johnny Key upheld the decision of the community advisory board to terminate her.

The decision to terminate Hall was approved 5-0 by the CAB on Thursday, based on the recommendation of school administrators, district spokeswoman Pam Smith said.

Hall's attorney, Austin Porter, Jr., called the decision by the CAB a "rubber stamp" to advance the commissioner's desires.

"It seems the advisory councilors are not looking out for the patrons and students (of Little Rock schools)," Porter said. "You had an award-winning principal — this principal had a lot of support from patrons and students."

Hall has been on paid leave since June due to the pending investigation of an incident in January that happened while she was reportedly breaking up a fight.

Hall was also charged with misdemeanor assault in connection to an “altercation” between the administrator and a student that occurred in January, court records state.

Initial reports to police said Hall was punched in the face while breaking up a fight. Later, a “video of a video” appeared to show an adult woman throwing a punch at a student, district officials said in June.

Officials stressed, however, that because the school’s security footage is cycled through every two weeks, the district does not have the initial footage of the incident.

Porter criticized school administrators for not taking action prior to the video, despite initial reports to police made in January about the incident, and said the action against Hall was only taken because the school district was embarrassed.

The initial report does not include information about an adult punching a student. It instead states Hall told police 14-year-old punched her in the face.

Authorities said the teen agreed with Hall’s statement and was taken to a juvenile detention facility on a charge of second-degree battery. Investigation into a possible punch by Hall came only after the video.

Court records show a trial for Hall on the misdemeanor charge has been set for 8:30 a.m. Oct. 31.

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