The Beaufort Gazette, May 11, 1999

Elementary principal suspended for "jailing" students
By Jim Newman, Gazette staff writer

The Ridgeland Elementary School principal was placed on administrative leave by the Jasper County Board of Education on Monday night in connection with the recent "jailing" of four students.

The decision came following a three-hour executive session that included statements from Gloria Poacher, the mother of one of the boys.

Superintendent Bill Singleton said he made the recommendation to suspend principal Deborah McAlveen based upon signed statements from individuals involved in the incident, including Richard Brownlee, the Jasper County High school resource officer.

Singleton said Brownlee's statement insisted that McAlveen had asked him to remove the students from the campus and that she was aware of where they were being taken.

"She knew where they were going, according to the officer," he said. "The statements that I'm getting are pointing to the administration being aware of what was going on."

Singleton said an investigation continues and may also include a closer look at the school's assistant principal, Willie Pippins.

The superintendent could not say how long the suspension would last or if it would affect McAlveen's new posting as director of special education for the district next fall.

Singleton said he expected the investigation to last at least another one or two weeks. "This will be until we can sort through this and then we'll make a recommendation to the board," he said.

Last month the four Ridgeland Elementary School fourth graders were taken to a holding room at Jasper County Jail.

The students were sent home with notes telling their parents of a mandatory parent-teacher conference. The incident began when they returned to school the following day without their parents.

"This was not a suspension note," Singleton said. "Some of the kids gave it to their parents and some didn't."

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