Superintendent Jim Germann released a statement regarding the status of Dawson County High School principal Bruce Clausen. Bottom line: Clausen is back at work.
The written statement said “Jeff Weldon, attorney, has completed his investigation of the physical altercation between Bruce Clausen and a student on January 18 at Dawson County High School. The investigation revealed that the student was belligerent, verbally abusive and out of control during the event and that Mr. Clausen used reasonable force to physically restrain the students to quell a disturbance and for self protection. This event will be documented in the permanent records of Mr. Clausen and the student. Mr. Clausen returned to work after lunch on January 26. A special Board meeting on the matter will not be held.
With the release Germann included a copy of Montana Code Annotated which addresses student discipline. The law says:
MCA 20-4-302. Discipline and punishment of pupils — definition of corporal punishment — penalty — defense. (1) A teacher or principal has the authority to hold a pupil to a strict accountability for disorderly conduct in school, on the way to or from school, or during intermission or recess.
(2) For the purposes of this section, “corporal punishment” means knowingly and purposely inflicting physical pain on a pupil as a disciplinary measure.
(3) A person who is employed or engaged by a school district may not inflict or cause to be inflicted corporal punishment on a pupil.
(4) (a) A person who is employed or engaged by a school district may use physical restraint, defined as the placing of hands on a pupil in a manner that is reasonable and necessary to:
(i) quell a disturbance;
(ii) provide self-protection;
(iii) protect the pupil or others from physical injury;
(iv) obtain possession of a weapon or other dangerous object on the person of the pupil or within control of the pupil;
(v) maintain the orderly conduct of a pupil including but not limited to relocating a pupil in a waiting line, classroom, lunchroom, principal’s office, or other on-campus facility; or
(vi) protect property from serious harm.
(b) Physical pain resulting from the use of physical restraint as defined in subsection (4)(a) does not constitute corporal punishment as long as the restraint is reasonable and necessary.
(5) A teacher in a district employing neither a district superintendent nor a principal at the school where the teacher is assigned has the authority to suspend a pupil for good cause. When either a district superintendent or a school principal is employed, only the superintendent or principal has the authority to suspend a pupil for good cause. Whenever a teacher suspends a pupil, the teacher shall notify the trustees and the county superintendent immediately of the action.
(6) A teacher has the duty to report the truancy or incorrigibility of a pupil to the district superintendent, the principal, the trustees, or the county superintendent, whichever is applicable.
(7) If a person who is employed or engaged by a school district uses corporal punishment or more physical restraint than is reasonable or necessary, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction of the misdemeanor by a court of competent jurisdiction, shall be fined not less than $25 or more than $500.
(8) A person named as a defendant in an action brought under this section may assert as an affirmative defense that the use of physical restraint was reasonable or necessary. If that defense is denied by the person bringing the charge, the issue of whether the restraint used was reasonable or necessary must be determined by the trier of fact.