Ozark The attorney representing a suspended Dothan school teacher who broke up a fight between two Honeysuckle Middle School students claims his client has received death threats. Jason Brogden said that comes as the teacher hopes to return to the classroom soon. He didn’t elaborate on the threats.
The teacher---Brogden is not making his name public---was placed on administrative leave after the mother of one student involved in the physical altercation lodged complaints against him. She claims the teacher used excessive force, causing injuries to her son including a concussion.
However, Brogden said his client’s actions were prudent giving the situation. “He tried to keep two young men from hurting each other. They are former football players and stand about 6 feet tall. If there was a video of him sitting there and watching (them) bludgeon each other (and doing nothing) imagine what would happen.” He indicated there would be an outcry about lack of action.
A videotape shot on a student cell phone and posted on social media shows the teacher---a former U.S. Marine---placing his arm around one student’s neck and eventually subduing him on the ground. A large number of students looking on seem to verbally incite the fight.
“I am concerned about Dothan city schools and safety,” Brogden said during an exclusive broadcast interview with WTVY/WRGX’s Senior Investigative Reporter Ken Curtis. He said it’s his understanding that 200-300 students are in a 10-foot hallway at lunchtime.
When the teacher---a single father of seven-year old twins---was placed on paid leave October 20, Dothan Superintendent Dr. Chuck Ledbetter said it was routine procedure. Ledbetter, who recently assumed the job, said he asked police to investigate so the probe would be independent of the school system.
Police found there is no basis for charges against the teacher. However, the students involved in the fight were criminally charged---one with felony assault and the other with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. Additional information regarding the arrests is not public information due to their age.
While police found there was no criminal act on part of the teacher, officers did not conclude whether there was a violation of system policy. The findings were turned over to Ledbetter who will review them and decide if the teacher can return to work.
Brodgen said his client wants privacy and hopes to move on from the matter letting the judicial system handle the criminal charges.