Canton OH Feb 12 2020 An employee on Canton City Schools’ safety and security team has been fired after district officials say he used excessive physical force on a 6-year-old student.
The Canton City school board on Monday voted to fire Shawn T. Poole, a school resource assistant for the district since 2017, for malfeasance of duty.
Poole’s termination is retroactive to Feb. 4. He had been suspended since Jan. 22.
Poole, 45, of Canton, could not be reached for comment Monday evening.
According to Poole’s termination letter – which the Canton Repository obtained through a public records request – the district’s investigation found Poole used excessive force on Jan. 21 when he tried to stop a kindergartener at McGregor Elementary from running out of the cafeteria.
Witness statements submitted by six school employees said the girl had lost recess privileges and did not want to stay inside. When she tried to run, Poole grabbed the 6-year-old with his hands on both sides of her arms and lifted her off the ground, the statements said.
He then tucked the girl under his right arm, which one employee likened to a sack of potatoes, and carried her to an opposite wall in the cafeteria. The witnesses also said they could hear Poole shouting at her. A school community worker intervened and said she saw red marks on the girl’s arm. The girl told the school nurse that Poole had put his arms around her and squeezed her belly as she was leaving the cafeteria. The nurse did not see any marks on the girl, according to her statement.
Three of the witnesses described Poole’s actions as excessive force. Some of the witnesses also reported that the student had complained that Poole had hurt her and that she was scared and shaking.
Investigators also viewed the school’s surveillance video but the footage only showed a brief moment of the incident, the termination letter said.
According to the letter, Poole told district investigators that some of the witnesses could not have seen his interaction with the student. He admitted to picking up and carrying the student, and said he did so to prevent her from exiting the building. He also called the witnesses’ characterization of his demeanor incorrect, the letter said.
Stephen Humphrey, director of safety and security, recommended Poole’s termination. Humphrey said Poole has been trained in the proper procedures and guidelines for dealing with a disruptive or defiant student and he disregarded that training in his interaction with the 6-year-old.
Humphrey said Monday that this was Poole’s first year as a school resource assistant at the elementary level. He previously spent two years at the middle school level.
A school resource assistant is not the same as a school resource officer, which is typically a police officer assigned to a school district.
A school resource assistant’s duties include monitoring student behavior inside the school, during in-school suspension and after-school activities, as well as enforcing student code of conduct and school policies.
According to documents in his personnel file, Poole, who holds a one-year educational aide permit, received high marks on his performance evaluation for the 2017-2018 school year. His evaluator noted Poole’s positive attitude and strong work ethic, stating he would often work through lunch and stay longer to deal with situation.
Poole previously worked as a substitute teacher and substitute custodian for the district, as well as support staff for the district’s summer programs, district records show. Records from the Ohio Department of Education indicate he also held a coaching assignment at Hartford Middle School.
State records show that Poole has been previously disciplined. He entered into a consent agreement with the Ohio Department of Education in November 2018 after failing to disclose two misdemeanor disorderly conduct convictions when he applied for an educational aide permit. He was convicted in 2011 in Massillon Municipal Court and in 2018 in Canton Municipal Court.
As part of the consent agreement, the state suspended his educational aide permit for 30 days and ordered him to complete 16 hours of community service and an anger management class.
Before being hired by Canton City Schools, Poole had worked on the security and safety team for Akron Public Schools. His other work experience included customer service roles and logistics planner for local private companies, as well as a community center director, his personnel file shows.