POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — An employee at Flat Rock Elementary School in Powhatan will not be charged after the employee was accused of physically assaulting students last month, according to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Gretchen Hutt Brown.
The Powhatan County Sheriff’s Office said the complaint was made on March 15 against an employee at Flat Rock Elementary. The complaint was reported by both the parents of the students and the school district.
After the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office investigated the claims, Brown said she reviewed the investigation and found “based on the evidence gathered that no crime was committed by the employee.”
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According to Brown, someone claimed that several students were involved in a food fight in the cafeteria at lunchtime and that an employee may have used inappropriate force with the children involved.
The incident was reported to the school administration just after lunch, and the school nurse photographed a light red mark on one child’s shoulder area. That student also provided the administration with a written statement detailing that the employee had only verbally addressed the group of students.
According to Brown, later that day, the mother of that student came to the school. After the mother spent time alone with her child, the child changed her statement to say that the employee had grabbed her. The child’s mother then presented “a different photo depicting additional red marks that were inconsistent with those previously observed and photographed by the nurse.”
There is no video evidence of the incident, and Brown said there were inconsistent witness statements from the other students involved. Brown also said no adults in the cafeteria witness the employee using any force against the child.
Brown said in an email, “we have no probable cause to go forward with charges at this time.”
Brown also pointed out Virginia Code 18.2-57 (G):
“A school employee cannot be charged with assault for “incidental, minor, or reasonable physical contact or other actions designed to maintain order and control.””
The staff member had been placed on administrative leave during the investigation. The school system tells 8News the staff member is no longer on administrative leave and will be back at work starting Thursday.