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Private school principal accused of dragging student

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Updated: 10/17/2013 2:18 pm
NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. -- A local principal is facing child abuse charges.

Police say Ronda Lorraine Steinke-McDonald dragged a "defiant" child by his feet to a quiet room last month.

Police were called to the New Leaf School in Neptune Beach on Sept. 12.

Police say the principal tried to help a teacher deal with an 11-year-old boy who didn't want to get up off the floor, despite several requests by the teacher for him to take a seat.

The police report showed the teacher and the principal tried to pick up the boy and carry him out of the classroom.

Police said when that effort failed, the principal pulled him by his feet and dragged him over carpet, concrete and two door thresholds to another room.

"From her information and witnesses it was not an angered drag," said Lt. Adam Militello, with the Neptune Beach Police Department. "It was slow, methodical with continuous encouragement to have him make a good choice."

The boy suffered abrasions to his stomach, according to authorities. Police also noticed a significant scrape or a rug burn to his elbow. Militello said the principal told them she never intended to hurt the boy.

"She conveyed to me that if she had any indication of seeing any injury or hearing any kind of crying or wincing, according to her, she would have stopped that conduct immediately," he said

A month later, a judge issued an arrest warrant for Steinke-McDonald. She's been charged with felony child abuse.

Investigators with the Department of Children and Families were called to evaluate the boy's injuries.

DCF spokesman John Harrell would only confirm an investigation is underway and would not discuss any specifics.  But Harrell said under similar circumstances, investigators would interview other students and school employees who may have witnessed the incident.

The Department of Children & Families would send in a child protection team to investigate whether abuse or neglect took place or could occur in the future.

DCF would also recommend the person under investigation not have any contact with children.
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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

Anna20 - 10/23/2013 8:08 PM
0 Votes
Everyone needs to contact the State Attorneys Office and demand they go after this principal!! Take 2 min out of your day and make the call! Angela B. Corey Courthouse Annex 220 East Bay Street Jacksonville, Florida, 32202 Map Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Main: (904) 630-2400 Fax: (904) 630-1848

Truthseeker - 10/17/2013 10:45 AM
0 Votes
It sounds to me like the injuries for the so called "abuse" were not as bad as many kids receive when playing outdoors instead of sitting on their butts with a video game controller in their hands. Actually the blisters they get on their butts from playing video games are probably worse.

Mollysmomma - 10/16/2013 8:21 PM
0 Votes
Oh really, hammy... What is your diagnosis? What type of special needs do you have? Bring totally ignorant of training or THE LAW is not a disability

Mollysmomma - 10/16/2013 8:19 PM
0 Votes
Oh.... My.... God! Anyone who works with kids with special needs KNOWS about the 'flop & drop' this occurs when our kids are scared or confused or at their limit. Anyone in education knows to 'De-escalate and not antagonize! This woman not only needs to be fired, she needs to be FLOGGED, & THEN drug around the rooms for awhile! AND let's prosecute who ever is in charge of training, AND any adult witnesses who stood by and WATCHED! UNBELIVEABLE!!

hammy - 10/16/2013 8:06 PM
2 Votes
That is what's wrong with our youth today,they have no respect for anyone,not even their parents, I couldn't work with kids because I don't care who they belong to, disrespect me,and I'll get with them,and be prepared to leave with JSO, I thank God for my upbringing and appreciate every but cutting I got,at home and at school,it made me a better person,and even today at 51 I'm respectful to others ...

kathy323 - 10/16/2013 5:24 PM
0 Votes
Speaking as a Clinical Social Worker Trained to work in Special Education schools for children with special needs, there are a plethora of resources to pull from to encourage a child to "make better choices." Unless a child is in danger of harming him or herself, verbal cues are almost always the best options. On the occasion of a hands on incident, first, assistance should be requested for the safety of all. Hands on should never occur unless no assistance is available AND there is risk of imminent danger to self, others or property. In my day,and in my district, we were trained several times throughout the year in Passive Physical Restraint. A thorough and clinically sound hands on process to help the child regain control when destructive. To drag a child by the ankles is traumatic and in no way seems a procedure to regain focus and follow directions. A principal, especially of our most vulnerable should be held more accountable. All this is said with an understanding of the heart it takes to dedicate ones career to the service of difficult to handle sometimes, special needs children. My heart goes out to this child, this family, and yes, with this principal.
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