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ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) — The Howard County NAACP, Council of Elders of the Black Community of Howard County, and African American Community Roundtable said Thursday the Howard High School staffers involved in a video of a restrained Black student being punched in the head should be fired and charged criminally.
Earlier this month, the civil rights organizations called for a thorough investigation into the “very disturbing” incident, which was captured on cellphone video.
According to Howard County Police, three staff members stepped in after a student allegedly assaulted several schoolmates in the cafeteria. The agency confirmed one of the security officers shown in the video is a former police officer whose actions are now under investigation.
The NAACP said a vice principal and a school resource officer had the student pinned when a security assistant began punching the student in the head. The security assistant is on paid leave, and the student was later disciplined, the group said.
“At no point did the SRO intervene to stop the security assistant,” NAACP representative Candace Jaimes said. “Nor did the assistant principal who was positioned almost touching shoulders with the security assistant stop to intervene after the first punch. The assistant principal just continued to restrain the student.”
Jaimes said according to Howard County School Code, corporal punishment is forbidden but when a fight occurs, “staff may use no more force than the degree that is reasonably necessary to prevent violence and restore order, protect him or herself and the students involved in the fight or struggle and any persons that are in the vicinity of the confrontation.”
“The security assistant assaulted the student with the amount of force that is intended to cause serious bodily harm while the SRO and assistant principals stood by and watched,” Jaimes said. “Therefore it is the position of the NAACP that the staff that were involved in that incident should be fired and charged criminally.”
Barbara Peart, of the Council of Elders, said incidents like this aren’t as rare in the area as some might want to believe.
“It would be tempting for us from our little cocoon in Howard County to treat this as an aberration, to comfort ourselves by saying this rarely happens,” she said. “But the truth is, and we know this, that for every incident that is recorded and reported. there are incidences that are not reported and did not record and so we have to take this seriously.
Peart said there was not room for asking about what the student did wrong.
“What about the behavior of the child? Well, what about it? This is a child, we know their brains aren’t developed fully yet. They make stupid decisions,” Peart said. And even if this child had had a record of mal behavior, that is no excuse for violence to be reined on his head by an adult who is supposed to care… ao we ask that appropriate measures be taken against others who reigned violence on this child.”
“We ask that appropriate measures be taken against others who reigned violence on this child and that the school system, instead of hiding behind the policies, look at the policies and recognize what isn’t working, what needs to work and what needs to be changed.”
They also recommended that Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano review training procedures and hiring practices for school employees to make sure “They are safe to be in contact with students.”
This content was originally published here.