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Grand jury chooses not to indict JIS principal over alleged student abuse case

By J.R. TIDWELL / Editor

A grand jury decided not to indict Jemison Intermediate School Principal D.J. Nix on March 5 after a case involving him allegedly injuring a student by paddling the child too hard came before the court.

According to C.J. Robinson, the Chief Assistant District Attorney for the 19th Judicial Circuit, the incident occurred in October.

The child, who Robinson said has a history of discipline issues, was allegedly held down by Nix and another teacher while Nix administered five licks from a paddle.

The child’s mother said that she has been summoned to the school before due to incidents involving the child.

However, she was unavailable to go to the school on the day the alleged abuse occurred.

She said that the child was left with bruises by the paddling, which was characterized as too severe.

The mother told media outlets that her son, who is 9 years old, has been diagnosed with autism and ADHD.

However, Robinson said that the child’s medical records were not part of the trial, only school reports.

“If someone said the child is autistic, it came from the mother,” he said.

Robinson said the grand jury heard from multiple witnesses, watched video of the paddling and saw pictures of the injuries.

“They chose not to indict (Nix),” he said. “They did not take the case lightly. I respect their decision.”

While there was video from the school of the paddling, Robinson said it was not right in front of the camera, so the video was not clear on the number of licks administered.

He said there was some dispute over both the number of licks administered during the paddling and whether or not the bruises pictured on the child were caused by the paddling, as they were recorded (four or five days) after the incident occurred.

“There were a lot of questions,” he said.

Robinson said there was an investigation by local law enforcement, but no arrests were made prior to the case going before the court.

When asked for comment on the case, Chilton County Schools Superintendent Jason Griffin said, “due to this being a personnel issue, I can’t discuss the policy implementation related to this situation due to the involvement of school personnel.”

Griffin provided The Clanton Advertiser with the wording in the section of the CCS policy manual that deals with corporal punishment.

“The Board allows reasonable corporal punishment of students under the following terms and conditions. Corporal punishment will be administered only as a disciplinary measure, with due regard for the age and physical condition of the student, and without excessive force. Corporal punishment will be administered by the school principal or his representative in the presence of another adult professional school system employee.

“Corporal punishment should not be administered in the presence of another student. The Superintendent is authorized to develop and implement procedures for administering and documenting corporal punishment, consistent with the terms of this policy. If a parent does not want their student to receive corporal punishment, the parent must provide a written statement to the school administrator at the beginning of each school year.”

Griffin also provided the wording concerning corporal punishment found in the CCS student handbook.

“The Board of Education permits reasonable corporal punishment. Except for those acts of conduct, which are extremely antisocial or disruptive, corporal punishment should never be used as a first line of punishment.

“Also, subject to this exception, it should never be used unless the student is informed beforehand that specific misbehavior could occasion its use. Such punishment shall be administered only by the principal, or certified teacher of the school. Corporal punishment is to be administered in the presence of another teacher or administrator.”

Both the policy manual and student handbook may be found online at www.chilton.k12.al.us.