BOWLING GREEN — Warren Elementary School Principal Phillip Shelton has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations that he inappropriately touched a female student at the school last week.
Shelton allegedly smacked the 10-year-old girl on the buttocks in a classroom March 9 and was removed from the school two days later when Warren County Superintendent Tim Murley learned of the incident, Murley said.
"He was immediately removed from the building when I learned of the incident late Thursday," Murley said. Shelton received an official letter of suspension Monday and was told that "as of now he will not be returning to the school," Murley said.
Shelton, 50, has been principal since Feb. 3, 2003. He came to Warren County from the Pulaski County school system, where he had been employed for 18 years as a music teacher, Murley said.
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The child's father filed a complaint with the Bowling Green police and the matter was investigated as harassment, a misdemeanor, said Officer Barry Pruitt, Bowling Green police spokesman.
The girl told police the principal smacked her butt as she was bent over a desk playing with other students and he said: "I just couldn't resist it."
The girl told Shelton not to touch her "like that" again. Shelton asked if he had embarrassed her, walked her into the hallway and hugged her, telling her, "You know you are my favorite one," according to the police report.
Shelton then told the girl to go to his office and get some candy, the report states.
The classroom teacher witnessed the incident and told police she made an anonymous call to the Board of Education office and reported it the next day. The girl also told her parents about the incident Wednesday after speaking with her teacher.
Shelton apologized to the girl's father when the father went to the school to speak to authorities about the incident, but was told the family did not wish to speak with him, according to the police statement.
Some parents have been calling the school regarding the incident and have been told that Shelton is no longer there and there is no reason to be concerned about sending children to the school, said county schools spokeswoman Joanie Baker Hendricks.
"Because this was not a schoolwide incident and in essence there is no safety concern for the children, there is not cause for parents to be concerned about sending their child to school," Hendricks said.
"The safety of our students is always a No. 1 priority," Murley said. "We are dealing with concerned parents on a case by case basis."
Murley said that each year school administrators receive instructions about sexual harassment and are responsible for speaking with the teaching staff about that. All school employees receive an employee handbook that explicitly deals with rules regarding harassment, he added.