An article in Wednesday's Extra should have said that school officials reported an incident at Metz Junior High School, in which a teacher is charged with assaulting a student, the day it occurred. The case was then sent to the commonwealth's attorney's office, and charges were filed three weeks later. (Published 12/11/1999)
A special-education teacher at Metz Junior High School in Manassas was arrested last week and charged with assault and battery after allegedly slamming a student into a bank of lockers last month.
Manassas police arrested Constance Cardwell, of Woodbridge. Investigators said Cardwell grabbed a 13-year-old student by the arms and backpack and shoved him against the lockers after a dispute. The student received minor injuries to his back and was treated by a family physician, police said.
Manassas School Board Chairman Chairman Joseph B. Johnson said yesterday that the incident is only the second arrest of a teacher in the assault of a student since the board was founded in 1975.
"It's very unusual to have a teacher lose their cool, if, in fact, that's what happened," Johnson said, adding that he did not want to discuss details of the case because it involves a personnel matter. "If in fact there is any substance to the charge, we will not tolerate that. We believe in discipline in the schools, but there is such a thing as going too far."
Police spokesman Scott Stallard said that Cardwell and the student were standing in a stairwell Nov. 10 when Cardwell allegedly grabbed the eighth-grader by the arms and pushed him into the lockers. Stallard said there were several witnesses.
School Superintendent James E. Upperman said yesterday that Cardwell has been placed on leave while the charges are pending. Cardwell was released without bond and is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 19. Attempts to reach Cardwell for comment yesterday were unsuccessful.
Upperman said he could not comment directly about the case, but he emphasized that the school system takes such allegations very seriously. "We follow up on every allegation and check it thoroughly," Upperman said. "We want to be sure that we are protecting the welfare of our students and teachers alike, and that is what we are doing in this case as well."
Johnson said that School Board members learned about the arrest during a closed session but that they did not discuss the matter. He said that such a case is likely to come before the board and that the charges will be dealt with both in the court system and in the school system.
Stallard said the arrest was made three weeks after the incident because school staff had not immediately reported the alleged altercation to the school's resource officer.
If convicted of the misdemeanor, Cardwell could face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.