Student-principal ‘fight’ at Md. school not quite what it seems: police

PALMER PARK, Md. — What some people thought was a fight between a high school principal and a student Wednesday appeared to Prince George’s County police to have been more one-sided.

The incident happened at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Springdale, Maryland, and was recorded by a student, police said. The video was circulated on social media.

“The video, when slowed down and examined critically, demonstrates that the student places his hand in the face of the principal. What is viewed by some to be a blow, we believe is actually the principal swiping the hand away,” said police chief Hank Stawinski.

After that, the chief said the student can be seen hitting the principal.

A school resource officer, who is a county police officer, saw what happened and used a pepper spray foam to subdue the student, Stawinski said.

“I know my parents worry about these things and I worry about them too. This is not going to contaminate the entire hallway, because it’s a foam. It’s like shaving cream. It goes where it goes, and that’s the only person who gets impacted by it,” the chief said, adding that at this point he believes the school resource officer acted appropriately.

Police use the foam in schools, as well as at FedEx Field, to ensure bystanders are not accidentally affected, Stawinski said.

Stawinski said the student, who has been charged with assault, was involved in several confrontations with school staff that day.

The principal has been placed on administrative leave until things can be sorted out.

Stawinski said both his department and the school are conducting investigations to look further into the actions of the principal and student.

He said one of the things they’ll be looking at is video from school surveillance cameras.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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