State reverses substantiated child abuse against JCPS assistant - WDRB 41 Louisville News

State reverses substantiated child abuse against JCPS assistant principal

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- An assistant principal in Jefferson County Public Schools who had a report of child abuse substantiated against him by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services in August 2013 recently had that decision reversed.

Don Hudson had been an assistant principal at Buechel Metropolitan High School during a February 2013 incident in which a 15-year-old student suffered two fractures in his right forearm, near his wrist, after Hudson used an Aikido-style technique to restrain and guide a student to his office.

Hudson exercised his right to a confidential appeal, and on March 16, he won, according to a copy of a report from Kris Carlton, an administrative hearing officer with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

In the report, Carlton recommended that the Aug. 1, 2013 substantiated finding of child abuse/neglect involving Hudson be reversed and directed the cabinet to not to place his name on the central registry of those individuals who have been found to have abused or neglected children.

"The preponderance of evidence in the record does not sustain the department's burden of proof, that it is more likely than not that (student)'s broken arm was caused by other than accidental means," Carlton's report states, adding that had the student not been "aggressively physical ... in his attempt to escape from the permissible (according to JCPS policies) physical restraint/escort imposed by the vice principal, the injury may have not occurred."

The report further states that the fact the student "suffered a physical injury at the time of a physical restraint does not require that the action be found to constitute 'physical abuse.'"

Hudson, who is now an assistant principal at Marion C. Moore School, told WDRB News on Tuesday evening he was relieved that after four years, the case has been resolved.

His attorney, Will Walsh, said the facts of the case "speak for themselves."

"The details tell the story," Walsh said. "Actions have consequences. When kids get violent -- and sometimes they do - adults have to protect them and others by restraining them. If kids fight, it is not fair to assume that the adult was in the wrong. To me, it seems like that is what happened here."

A JCPS investigation of the incident substantiated that the student "did receive an injury to his right wrist." The district concluded that Hudson's actions did not "reflect proper use" of the Aikido-style technique he used to restraint the student. The report also stated it appears the Aikido-style technique was responsible for the student's injury.

Following the incident, Hudson was told to receive additional training and practice in the use of physical restraint, which he did.

In September, Hudson was among at least 10 JCPS employees who were suspended with pay on Sept. 14, then reassigned to non-instructional duties while the district investigated previous "patterns of poor professional judgment and unsafe behaviors with students."

Hudson was reassigned to the Detrick Bus Compound, but he was allowed to return to work on Nov. 10 with no further disciplinary action taken against him, after Superintendent Donna Hargens said the district had conducted a "thorough review of past allegations." 

"As you have already received a disciplinary conference for your conduct, the district has no choice but to close this review," Hargens' Nov. 9 letter to Hudson states. "You are hearby advised that if from this date forward, should you violate any board policy or state law, and such violation is substantiated, you will be terminated."

In August, Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt ordered schools to immediately stop using aikido martial art as a form of restraining students.

A spokeswoman for JCPS said Tuesday night she was unaware of the state's finding and could not provide any comments.

Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

Copyright 2017 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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