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Video shows Murfreesboro principal dragging special needs child down hallway

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Posted at 3:36 PM, Jun 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 20:57:05-04

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF)  — For the first time, the full video is released of a special needs student dragged through a school hallway in Murfreesboro.

The Rutherford County Director of Schools called the incident unprofessional conduct, and the Rutherford County School Board dismissed Walter Hill Elementary principal Helen Campbell.

But, Campbell will be appealing that decision.

NewsChannel 5 obtained the school security video from November 2019.

A 10-year-old autistic child was in the front office.

"He's sitting on the couch and two staffers are encouraging him to go to class," said Rutherford County Sheriff's Captain Kyle Evans.

There's no audio.

But that's when viewers can see principal Helen Campbell and special education teacher Bonnie Marlar drag the student through the hallway to a classroom.

"The child appears to be on his back with shoulders on the ground being drugged by his ankles. He doesn't appear to be resisting as being drug down the hall," said Evans.

Sheriff's detectives said another video clip showed Campbell going into the server room to erase the video after the fact.

"We alleged she deleted the video," said Evans.

But authorities recovered the video and Campbell and Marlar were both suspended.

Marlar was let go.

Campbell remained suspended, but just last week the school board voted 4-2 to fire her.

"The grounds fall under unprofessional conduct, conduct unbecoming for a teacher, insubordination, neglect of duty," said Director of Schools Bill Spurlock.

The optics of a child being dragged are not good

But, not everyone on the school board agreed with the firing.

"It is disgusting we are asked to vote on this when not one of us on this board has spoken with Mrs. Campbell," said board member Tammy Sharp.

Campbell plans to appeal the board's decision.

Her attorney says she and Marlar were put in a no-win situation, and that — given a chance to explain — people will better understand why they did what they did.

Investigators said there had to be better options than dragging a child through the hallways.

The child was dragged several hundred feet through the school to a classroom and suffered minor injuries.

His family has filed a civil lawsuit.