BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Scotlandville Magnet High School Principal Calvin Nicholas has hired Jill Craft to represent him against the East Baton Rouge School System and their attempt to fire him.
It's all over a stick the principal used to break up a fight that broke out at his school on August 31 after school.
"I feel like an injustice has been done to me for trying to do something good," said Nicholas.
During the fight, Nicholas stepped in to break it up.
"When I saw it, I thought this is about to be something I don't need, so I blew the whistle and said 'Get back! Get back!' screaming and hollering and the young man still approached him," said Nicholas. "In the commons area, there's a big break thing and a kid threw another kid to the ground and almost busted his head so I charge over there and I see another young lady and another young man come from the crowd, and I'm thinking, 'Here we go again.' Because the culture at that school is not one-on-one fighting, it's multiples-on-one. We have had at least two this year."
Nicholas said there were five children involved in the fight and admitted he did have a stick on him.
Kiran: Did you hit a child with a stick?
Nicholas: Yes ma'am, I did.
Nicholas: It's the only way I thought, at that particular time. As a leader, you react. If I can get his attention to distract him at that time, then I can get him off and I could control the situation without any problems, and it actually worked.
But it did not work for him after the fact. Nicholas said later that evening after the fight, he spoke to the children involved and their parents. The next morning, he went to the central office. Around 11 a.m. that same day, he said he was suspended indefinitely. The following morning at 8 a.m., Nicholas said East Baton Rouge School Superintendent Warren Drake told him to resign or be terminated.
"Mr. Drake said that my professionalism and my incompetency is why I am being dismissed based on GAMC and that's corporal punishment," said Nicholas. "That rule says that the school board does not condone nor authorize corporal punishment in East Baton Rouge Parish. However, reasonable physical force can be applied to disturbances that threaten injury or harm to any student or any person."
9News requested an on-camera interview from Warren Drake. He declined and sent a statement:
The Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook and Discipline Policy states the following:
However East Baton Rouge Teacher's Union President Carnell Washington said, "There is no policy that specifically says how I am supposed to break up a fight."
Washington said Nicholas is a prime example of why the union advises school officials not to intervene in fights.
"When teachers and educators are punished for protecting a child, something is wrong with that," said Washington. "He is being the target and we have a problem with that as a union. We have a problem with that as educators because it is too often the teachers and principals and everybody in the education system that have to intervene to protect a child."
Washington added that the video of Nicholas with a stick has been taken out of context.
"A snapshot of something that could have been edited, that could have been erased or reversed does not tell a story," said Washington. "The stick is not even the issue as much as he used what he thought was the best judgment to protect a child and at that moment, we as educators we have to make judgment calls and those calls are for the best interest of the children. That's what we have to look at. What was his intent? Was his intent to hurt a child or was his intent to protect one who was down?"
Nicholas was initially told he was indefinitely suspended. However, his attorney Jill Craft said the school system has fired Nicholas and has already hired his replacement at the school. Now, Craft said they are fulfilling due process.
If viewing this story on a mobile device, click the link to watch the full interview with Calvin Nicholas - http://shout.lt/bc2cd