A Middle Ridge Elementary school teacher arrested for allegedly assaulting a student has tendered his resignation, according to the Newton County School System.
Samuel Walston, 43, of Lithonia, a fourth grade teacher at Middle Ridge Elementary School, was arrested on Feb. 9 and charged with simple battery misdemeanor. He was bonded out the same day for $1,000.
He allegedly slapped the face of one of his 11-year-old students in a school bathroom on Feb. 5, which was witnessed by two other students, said Investigator Sharon Stewart of the Newton County Sheriff's Office. The students then went to school administrators, who made the determination to call the Sheriff's Office, said Stewart.
According to the student's mother, the student had gone to the bathroom after looking for Walston and being unable to find him.
Walston had come looking for the student and allegedly grabbed the student by the shirt, lifting him against the wall, and slapped him with an open hand.
Stewart said there was no mention of the student resisting.
Walston told the NCSO the student had been pulled from the classroom towards the end of the day to keep him from disrupting the class, said Stewart. Walston said he had only used two fingers to keep from bumping into the child, who backed away on his own accord and made self-contact with the wall. After that happened, Walston said he asked the student if he needed to see the nurse, which the student turned down.
There were no visible marks on the student.
Walston turned himself in on Saturday to the NCSO.
Dr. Steven Whatley, superintendent of Newton County Schools, said he wasn't able to discuss the specifics of the case. "It's a personnel matter," he said. "We're aware of the arrest report. We're cooperating with law enforcement."
He said Walston, who was in his first year of teaching for the Newton County School System, had tendered his resignation.
Middle Ridge Elementary School Principal Karen Crowder declined to comment, directing questions to Public Relations Director Sherri Viniard, who deflected inquiries to Whatley.
A call to Walston's phone number was answered by a male refusing to give his name, who claimed it was a shared dorm phone, even though the number was listed in the phone book as a Southwestern Bell mobile number.
Walston had previously taught first grade in Hampton, Va., and had been employed by the Hampton City Schools division from August 1999 to June 2006. He earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from Norfolk State University, Va., in 1998.
The mother of the 11-year-old student said her son was diagnosed with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder and is considered a special needs child. She said she was concerned that he had to be transferred out of Walston's class, which was for special needs students, to a regular education classroom.
Originally, she had looked forward to having Walston as her son's teacher.
"I was glad he had a male teacher because he had never had a male teacher," she said.
But now, she said her son had terrible nightmares of being locked in a trunk by his teacher.
She said she still had not heard back from school administrators about the incident. "It's frustrating more than anything," she said.
The case is still under investigation by the NCSO and a court date has not been set.
The Newton County Schools' policy on corporal punishment, which was last revised in 1991, states that it would be considered appropriate "only in cases of major infractions of school rules and policy and only after consideration of other alternatives." It goes on to say corporal punishment must be administered by the principal, assistant principal or principal's designee in a private space out of view of other students with at least one other adult school employee present. Parents can prohibit the use of corporal punishment for their child but must do so in writing.
The school system policy also states, "A teacher shall have the authority, consistent with board policy, to manage his or her classroom, discipline students and refer a student to the principal or his designee to maintain discipline in the classroom."
School policies can be viewed on the school system's Web site, www.newtoncountyschools.org/policies.
Jenny Thompson contributed to this article.