Charged with roughing up 5th-grader
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Sheriff Heath Jackson reported last week that W.S. Neal Middle School assistant principal Donald Eugene Hardyman Jr, 56, of Brewton, was taken into custody after a county grand jury voted to formally accuse him of a criminal act for allegedly roughing up a fifth-grade student at the Brewton school.
According to Escambia County Detention Center records, Hardyman is charged with one count of torture or willful abuse of a child who is not a member of his family. An employee of the jail’s booking and release division reported that the former school official was processed into the county jail, then released on a $25,000 bond.
Sheriff’s reports indicate that Hardyman and other WSNMS staff were trying to send the 11-year-old — a fifth-grade student who reportedly suffers from “behavioral issues” — to On Campus Suspension for an unspecified reason. When the child resisted, Hardyman apparently became enraged.
Cameras in the school hall and inside a classroom recorded the entire episode, and the video footage reportedly served as the basis for the assistant principal’s indictment.
Reports show that the AP “grabbed the student by his shoulders and shoved him into a classroom.” He then reportedly “shoved the child into a desk and got up in his face,” and moments later yanked the student out of the desk and flipped it over.
When the youngster stood and tried to push the AP’s hands away, Hardyman reportedly shoved him into another desk. The video reveals that an OCS aide and a School Resource Officer witnessed the incident but did not intervene.
Sheriff’s officers were called August 9 to the Escambia County Board of Education’s Central Office to investigate a complaint filed by the child’s mother against Hardyman. Results of the ECSO investigation were presented to the grand jury, and the panel handed up the indictment.
The county board of education met in special session August 16 and accepted Hardyman’s resignation, effective October 1.