EASTERN SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL
Principal, Student Arrested in Scuffle
Thursday, October 26, 2006
The principal of Eastern Senior High School, who was hired this fall to transform the troubled school into an academy modeled on the prestigious Boston Latin, was arrested along with a student yesterday during a scuffle inside the school, authorities said.
Principal Shawn Hearn, 35, and student Kenneth Holsey, 18, were charged with misdemeanor simple assault, police said. Both were issued a citation and released, police said. Neither man needed medical attention.
Police said the incident began after a fight broke out between two students on the first floor of the school about 10:15 a.m. Other students, including those on other floors, poured out of classrooms, trying to see the fight.
Hearn was on the third floor, trying to get students to return to their classrooms, when he grabbed two male students, police said. A third student jumped on the principal. Police officers assigned to the school went to the third floor to break up that scuffle and arrested Hearn and Holsey, who they identified as the student who jumped on the principal.
"It's unfortunate that kind of thing happens with students and adults," said Robert C. Rice, special assistant to Superintendent Clifford B. Janey. "We'll deal with it in an appropriate manner."
Hearn, a former assistant principal at Annandale High School in Fairfax County, has been touted by Janey as a talented administrator able to turn around the school just west of RFK Stadium. On school beautification day before the first day of classes in August, Hearn was photographed with Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) painting and sprucing up. Two weeks ago, he accompanied Janey to Boston, where they spent a day touring Boston Latin, a selective public high school.
But some people complain that Hearn can be combative and that he has sometimes demeaned staff members and students.
"The smallest conversations could turn into arguments. Anything can set him off," said Mark Roy, a member of a restructuring team that advises Hearn.
"I've seen him interact with students in a hostile way. I've heard him interact with faculty in a hostile way," Roy said. "I've had run-ins with him myself."
Reached by telephone at home last night, Hearn said it was "not true at all" that he had assaulted a student. He said that he was trying to get the students to disperse and that "yes, we were physically moving students."
Hearn was placed on administrative leave and reassigned to the school system's central office, Rice said. Two retired principals, Willie Lamb and Richard Bachman, will fill in at the school, he said.
Staff writers Allison Klein and Theola Labbé contributed to this report.