A former principal at an Alexandria school has been charged with assault and battery over allegations that he spanked a 12-year-old student after she was asked to pick something up off the cafeteria floor and refused.

The incident occurred April 4 when the student was in the cafeteria with a few friends at Carl Sandburg Middle School, according to Fairfax County police. The principal — Terrence E. Yarborough — purportedly came into the cafeteria and asked her to pick up a piece of trash on the floor. She said no. It was not clear whether the student had dropped the item.

Yarborough then asked her again to pick it up and she refused a second time, according to police. Yarborough, 53, then smacked the girl on her buttocks, police said. The student left the cafeteria and told a teacher.

A school resource officer was contacted, as were officials from Fairfax County Public Schools and Child Protective Services.

Police said Yarborough was “removed from the school” and placed on administrative leave as police and the school system’s internal affairs department carried out investigations.

On July 10, police said a criminal summons was obtained that charged Yarborough with misdemeanor assault and battery.

On Monday, police said Yarborough came to a police station where the summons was served. He was released and is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 4.

Fairfax County schools spokesman John Torre said Tuesday that officials put Yarborough on administrative leave April 4, immediately after the allegations were made. Yarborough did not return to Sandburg Middle School after that and resigned June 30.

Torre said the district will decide whether to ask the state to revoke Yarborough’s administrator and teaching licenses after the criminal case concludes.

Yarborough had worked for Fairfax County schools since 2005, when he was hired to be an assistant principal at Hayfield Secondary School. He went on to be an assistant principal at Robinson Secondary School in 2007. He was hired to head Sandburg Middle School in 2010.

Reached Tuesday, Yarborough said the charge was “unexpected.”

He said the incident involved “a simple playing around” interaction. Yarborough said he asked the student to pick up paper in the cafeteria.

She said no and got “smart alecky,” he said. “That was typical of her. We continued to joke.

“I said, ‘Girl, if you don’t pick that up, I’m going to spank you.’ ”

Yarborough said he then “gave her one swat to the rear end with the flick of my wrist.”

Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.