A Little Rock police report filed in late January provides additional details in a physical altercation between a 14-year-old student and a Little Rock School District principal who was placed on paid administrative leave last week.
Administrators placed Rhonda Hall, principal at Mabelvale Middle School, on leave June 18 after they learned of footage of a January 30 “altercation” between Hall and a student, according to Pamela Smith, communications director for the district.
According to a police report of the incident, Kenneth Thompson, a school resource officer, received a call at about 9:42 a.m. that day about an irate student who “physical[ly] assaulted the school’s principal.”
Upon arrival, Hall told authorities she stepped in the middle of a fight between the 14-year-old girl and another student, the report states. The principal then used her body to keep the girl from getting to the other student, who had been moved to a classroom, she said.
The 14-year-old then punched Hall in the face, causing swelling to her right eye, Hall told police.
Authorities said the teen agreed with Hall’s statement and was taken to a juvenile detention facility on a charge of second-degree battery.
Hall was treated for her reported injuries by the school nurse, authorities said.
However, district officials who were notified on June 18 of video from the fight and reported assault through a blog “immediately launched an investigation” into the incident and contacted the Child Abuse Hotline, Smith said in a written statement.
Smith said that Hall was placed on paid administrative leave as officials conduct a “more thorough review of the incident.”
The “video of a video” appears to show an adult woman throwing a punch at a student, district officials confirmed Wednesday. Officials stressed, however, that as the school’s security footage is cycled through every two weeks the district does not have the initial footage of the incident.
The police report does not make any mention of an adult swinging a fist at a student. Hall declined on Wednesday to comment on the difference between the report and video’s narrative, saying it would be premature to comment on a matter under ongoing investigation.
Prior to heading Mabelvale Middle School, Hall became principal at Hall High School in 2008. According to previous reporting by the Democrat-Gazette, she holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the the University of Central Arkansas and has been a district teacher and administrator since 1989.
Principals in the Little Rock School District will not be returning to work until after July 4, officials said. According to Smith, administrators will assign an interim principal to Mabelvale “sometime after that date.”
When asked about parents’ concerns regarding the welfare of children attending the middle school, Smith replied in an email on Tuesday, encouraging parents or others who might have information they would like to report to contact the district’s Safety and Security office, the Child Abuse Hotline, or the Little Rock Police Department.
“It remains the commitment of the Little Rock School District to provide safe, nurturing educational environments that are conducive to learning,” she wrote.