The father of a Vilonia student said Sunday afternoon that he plans on being at the Vilonia Police Department this morning to pursue charges against Vilonia High School principal Ed Sellers.
Greg Turman said he had been told by his 17-year-old son, a senior at Vilonia High School, that he was walking to the school’s office on Thursday after a cafeteria fight with another student when Sellers grabbed his student ID lanyard, pushed him against a wall and held him by the head and neck, choking him.
Turman said he’s got pictures of a red mark the lanyard left on his son’s neck, and red places on his cheek and ear where the student says Sellers was forcefully holding him.
Turman said he’d gone to the school on Friday to talk with school officials and watch a security camera tape of the incident. He said the tape shows his son walking near Sellers and the two having some sort of altercation, but because of the angle all he could see was Sellers’ back.
Still, he said, the tape seems to show that his son didn’t make any threatening movements or gestures, and that "you can tell that my son was not resisting, and you can tell that he was in my son’s face."
According to his son’s account, Thurman said, while his son was on the way to the office, Sellers "asked him if he’d had enough" and asked what had happened. He said his son told him that he replied "sir, he hit me," at which point the alleged choking incident occurred.
The student was suspended for three days for the fight. Turman said he’s got no problem with this. His son started the fight, he said, and because of that he’s spending these three days, and many more, grounded and without his vehicle and electronics, "doing chores from sunup to sundown."
But he was also suspended an additional two days for the altercation with Sellers, he said, and was taken from the school in handcuffs to the Vilonia Police Department, where he was cited for misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Turman said he does have a problem with this.
"My deal with them was that, look, my son had crossed a line by cussing ... and fighting with that other student, and then Mr. Sellers crossed a line by doing what he did," he said. "They both flew off the handle. I wanted (Sellers) to take accountability for that, admit it, and let’s move past it; let him take the three-day suspension and let’s have it over with."
But the two-day suspension isn’t going away, and as of Sunday afternoon, Turman said he’s not gotten a satisfactory response from Sellers.
Going by the account of his son and other students he’s talked to, Turman doesn’t know what to call the incident between his son and Sellers other than "an assault," and according to everything he said he’s heard, one that was inexplicably unwarranted.
Dr. Frank Mitchell, the school’s superintendent, said last week that "Mr. Sellers did restrain the older boy, but it was not excessive."
According to the school’s director of student services, Matt Sewell, "There had just been a fight, and the students’ adrenalin was running."
"The senior was belligerent and out of control," Sewell said last week. "Mr. Sellers didn’t have a choice but to restrain him."