Administrative law judge Lisa Nelson recently ruled that I, as former principal of Carter-Parramore Academy, was justified in using pepper spray during two altercations at the school in 2007. The Florida Department of Education had sought to revoke my certification as an educator.
However, after an evidentiary hearing, the judged ruled that I did what any reasonable person should have done to protect himself, his staff and students from two dangerous situations. Nelson confirmed that I had violated no laws and was not guilty of violating any of the rules of the FDOE.
I always knew that the facts would prove that I took appropriate actions to bring two violent situations under control. What really troubled me was the false allegation that I chased a student down the hall and sprayed her while she was helpless. As a school administrator, I was obligated to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment for students and staff at all times. And that is exactly what I did.
The judge also found that the school resource officer was not available to help in either of the two situations. It was the lack of action by others that prompted me to do what I had to do in order to bring the situation under control. I can live with the fact that I used pepper spray to stop kids from being violent. However, if I had taken no action and someone had been seriously injured or killed, I would have a hard time forgiving myself.