A St. Landry Parish high school principal and a coach were placed on administrative leave Tuesday following their arrests a day earlier in a physical confrontation with a student.
Beau Chene High School Principal Keith James, 49, was booked on a count of simple battery in the incident and later released on a $1,000 bond, according to court records. The coach, Lorenso Williams, 29, was booked on a count of cruelty to juveniles and released on recognizance.
Superintendent Edward Brown was not in his office on Tuesday, his staff said, and was not available for comment. Both men were placed on paid administrative leave while the investigation continues, according to District 7 School Board member Huey Wyble, who represents the area where the high school is located.
The student accused James of pinning him down in an assistant principal’s office and Williams of throwing him against a wall of lockers, accounts corroborated by witnesses to both incidents, according to each man’s affidavit for arrest.
Detective Amelia Bourque, of the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office, said she witnessed a bruise on the upper right part of the student’s back and an open cut and scrape on the left side of his back when she interviewed him on Sept. 30, the day of the incident, the affidavit states. The student was wearing a sweatshirt, uniform shirt and undershirt at the time.
The student told detectives that Williams, the coach, lifted up his shirt and threw him and dragged him against the lockers when attempting to discipline him for not tucking in his shirt.
Williams said “he brought the child into the locker room to speak to him and that (the student) was cursing at him and not listening,” according to the affidvavit, then “tried to keep the child from leaving” before taking him to an assistant principal’s office.
When the student became irate and tried to leave the office, James, the principal, said he “did have to tussle with the child” before he pinned him to the ground and held him there for 15-20 minutes until law enforcement arrived.
Witnesses said the student “was not being combative, only upset that no one would listen to his story,” according to the affidavit.
Accompanied by his mother, the student was interviewed at the Sheriff’s Office before James and Williams surrendered on Monday without incident, according to St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Clay Higgins.
The student’s name will not be released because he’s a minor, Higgins said.
Williams is head basketball coach, assistant football coach and special education teacher at the school, according to the Beau Chene High School website.
The incident in St. Landry Parish follows one a month ago in which an East Baton Rouge Parish school principal was suspended and faces dismissal after a video surfaced showing him striking a boy on the rear with a stick while breaking up a fight.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.