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Deputy Who Flipped Spring Valley High Student Acted Reprehensibly, School Officials Say

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 27/10/2015 Andy Campbell
SPRING VALLEY HIGH © WISTV SPRING VALLEY HIGH

 

It was "outrageous and unforgivable," for a South Carolina school resource officer to knock a high school student to the floor and drag her across the classroom, the Richland School District superintendent said Tuesday.

Richland School District 2 Chair James Manning and Superintendent Debbie Hamm didn't mince words at a press conference to decry Richland County Sheriff's Deputy Ben Fields' actions on Monday.

Hamm called video of the deputy's actions, taken by a student in the class, "one of the most upsetting" she's ever seen. "This incident is outrageous and unforgivable and doesn’t represent what this district is," she said.

Manning called Field's actions "heinous" and "reprehensible," and vowed to work with the sheriff's office and State Law Enforcement Division to make sure it never happens again.

"There is no place in this district for what happened yesterday," Manning said. "Our tolerance for it is zero."

State law enforcement authorities and the U.S. Justice Department are investigating video showing Fields grabbing the student by her arms while she's sitting at her desk and flipping her chair, slamming her into a wall. He then yanks her across the floor and out of the classroom. The sheriff's office also has asked the FBI to help investigate, Manning said.

Sheriff Leon Lott said Tuesday that there's a third video that hasn't been publicly released showing the student striking the officer, according to the New York Daily News. It's unclear when during the deputy's struggle with the student that he was struck.

Fields was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. He joined the sheriff's office in 2004 and became a school resource officer in 2008, Reuters reports.

Fields hasn't publicly commented on the video.

The student who was dragged from the classroom was charged with disturbing schools and was turned over to her parents. She had refused a request to leave the classroom before Fields got involved, authorities said.

Manning said it's important to give officers better training in how to de-escalate classroom tensions rather than exacerbate them, and to train teachers when and how to alert school resource officers to problems.

The video, which quickly led to the trending hashtag #AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh, has gotten the nation's attention.

"I can't imagine any justification for treating a child like that in a classroom," Victoria Middleton, the head of South Carolina's ACLU chapter, told CNN on Tuesday. "Whatever led up to it, whatever rationale may be presented, does not justify the force with which that student was treated."

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