Whittell dean defends himself, reaches out to community
About 25 parents attended a meeting at Whittell High School on Tuesday to learn more about the school’s new dean of students and athletic director Richard Darrington, who is facing battery charges against students from his previous job in Georgia.
“It was mainly an opportunity for parents to hear from him (Darrington), and receive more information regarding the incident,” Whittell Principal Sue Shannon said on Wednesday.
Shannon wouldn’t comment on the specific allegations against Darrington, but said she’s been “extremely pleased with his work so far.”
Darrington, 37, was hired this summer to replace Whittell administrator Dan Wold, who transferred to Carson Valley Middle School for the fall. He said the Douglas County School District was aware of two battery charges, a felony and a misdemeanor, leveled against him in Blue Ridge, Ga., where he operated Darrington Academy, a private school for troubled teens, for five years.
Darrington was arrested in May by Fannin County sheriff’s investigators for allegedly slamming a 17-year-old student on the floor, causing a tooth to fall out, and pushing a 16-year-old juvenile into a wall. Darrington paid $6,000 bail and was released from jail. He said he has not been indicted, nor has a hearing been scheduled.
“The charges are still pending and will probably go to be presented to the grand jury in November,” Appalachian Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Jodi Spiegel said on Wednesday.
In a statement released Saturday, Darrington said he has not been provided a legal forum to challenge the allegations against him.
“In August, 2008, a restraint occurred in which a 17-year-old male student physically threatened my safety and the safety of my staff,” he said. “As a result of the events leading up to and following the restraint, the 17-year-old student was arrested and charged as an adult. Subsequently, this student was no longer permitted to attend the school.”
Darrington said in February, the weak economy and declining enrollment forced him to lay off some employees of Darrington Academy.
“It is my belief that during this time a former employee — who felt he had been wrongfully dismissed — contacted the former 17-year-old student. The former employee had been involved in the restraint which led to the arrest of the former student. Subsequently, false allegations were made against me that led to the issuance of the warrants.”
Darrington said, “it’s important to note that at the time the warrants were issued against me in regard to the former 17-year-old student — nine months after the incident — the former student still had warrants pending against him for the same incident.
“Contrary to the allegations against me, I am shown to be a victim of the former student in court filings which document his arrest. If further prosecution of this matter occurs and if this matter reaches a courtroom, I feel that the truth will be told and I will be cleared of these allegations.”
Lake parent Greg Felton, who ran against school board president Cindy Trigg last year, said it’s unfortunate that Whittell’s new administrator was introduced to the community in such a negative way.
“I strongly feel that he (Darrington) will be an asset to our school,” Felton said in a phone message. “There’s very little backing to these accusations.”
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