After just three months on the job, the new principal of Scotlandville High School has been suspended with pay after a video surfaced Tuesday that appeared to show him striking a student on the rear with a stick to try to break up a fight.
Calvin Nicholas, who was named Scotlandville High’s principal in June, is on indefinite leave in connection with the fight, which occurred Monday after school, said Adonica Duggan, a spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Parish school system.
“We received the video yesterday, and there is currently an open investigation,” Duggan said on Wednesday. “This is a personnel matter, so we are limited in what we can discuss.”
The brief, blurry video, taken by a bystander and first shown Tuesday by WBRZ-TV, shows a fight outdoors between at least two male students. After a few seconds, a man dressed in black and holding a stick intervenes, striking the stick across the rear of one boy before pulling the boy aside. The television station reported receiving the video from an unnamed teacher at the school.
Nicholas declined comment when contacted by The Advocate on Wednesday.
Scotlandville High, located at 9870 Scotland Avenue, is a large high school with more than 1,400 students. Nicholas was assistant principal at Baker High before taking over as principal at Scotlandville High.
A former football star at McKinley High and later at Grambling University, Nicholas played one season of pro football with the San Francisco 49ers.
Carnell Washington, president of the East Baton Rouge Parish Federation of Teachers, said the union urges educators to stay out of active fights and to try to stop the fight verbally and wait for trained help to arrive.
“It’s a much better chance for a teacher to get hurt than the child to get hurt,” Washington said. “Teachers are not trained for that kind of combat.”
He also said educators need more training on how to handle such situations. He said he’d want to see what kind of training Nicholas had before making a judgment call about what kind of discipline he should get.
Washington said schools need to focus on prevention, especially teaching students ways to resolve conflicts on their own rather than resorting to fighting.
Teachers who enter fights can lose their job, get sued or worse, he said.
“I know a coach who once broke up a fight between two of his players,” Washington recalled. “He woke up in the hospital with partial paralysis all the way down his back.”
Washington said he broke up fights years ago, but stopped when two female track athletes of his who were fighting tore up an expensive suit he was wearing.
“That was about a $500 fight I ended up breaking up,” he said.