D.C. principal charged with assault

Coolidge High School Principal Thelma Jarrett surrendered to police Thursday over allegations that she punched a former staff member outside after a football game early this month, according to authorities.

The principal, who was put on administrative leave Nov. 9, is accused of punching a 37-year-old woman in the face in the parking lot after the school’s Nov. 2 homecoming game, according to a police report.

Police said in the report that two other Coolidge staff members were with Jarrett during the fight, one yelling “get her” and the other kicking the victim. But another staff member disputed that account, saying Thursday that Jarrett was trying to break up the fight and did not hit anyone.

Police did not say what the dispute was about or how it started. Two people familiar with the incident said the victim used to work at Coolidge.

The victim, who did not return phone calls Thursday, told police that Jarrett struck her with a closed fist, causing her to fall to the ground, as another person kicked her in the right side, according to the police report

Police said the victim complained of bruises to her right knee and side and of pain in her right shoulder and thigh.

Jarrett faces a single charge of misdemeanor simple assault, said D.C. police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump.

Crump said the two other Coolidge staff members allegedly involved in the fracas were also charged with assault and have surrendered, although she did not know when. Police did not immediately release their identities. The two were placed on leave Tuesday, said D.C. schools spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz.

Terry Goings, the parent coordinator at Coolidge, said he didn’t see the alleged fisticuffs but did see Jarrett holding one staff member back and another person holding the victim back.

“[The victim] was trying to break away to fight,” Goings said, adding that from his perspective, the principal was trying to restore order. “Ms. Jarrett didn’t do anything wrong at all.”

Jarrett could not be reached for comment. The police report said she turned herself in on the warrant at the department’s headquarters in the 300 block of Indiana Avenue NW. From there, she was taken to the 3rd District station, in the 1600 block of V St. NW.

Crump said Jarrett was still in police custody as of 4 p.m. Thursday.

Jarrett took the Coolidge principal job in 2009, replacing L. Nelson Burton. A Coolidge assistant principal, Aubrey Brown, is serving as interim principal while Jarrett is on leave.

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
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