The following is a press release distributed by District Attorney Ashley Welch's office:
On May 14, 2019, the District Attorney’s Office in Waynesville was contacted by a parent of a child enrolled at Shining Rock Classical Academy, located at 1023 Dellwood Road. This parent had been referred to our office by the magistrate because she had sought a warrant charging Joshua Morgan, the Interim Head of School, with assault upon her child. She alleged that this event occurred on April 23, 2019.
By law, a magistrate may not issue criminal process against a school employee for an offense that occurred while that employee was discharging the duties of his or her employment without express written approval of the District Attorney. Please see North Carolina General Statute § 15A-301(b1). In order to decide whether charges were merited, the District Attorney’s Office requested a full and complete investigation by the Waynesville Police Department on the same date that the parent contacted our office.
District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch received a copy of the investigative file from the Waynesville Police Department on Friday, June 14, 2019. The investigation included a forensic video interview of the child, a video interview of Mr. Morgan, an interview of the child’s parent, written statements from other persons at the school who had been present, and a copy of surveillance videos, the grievance filed by the parent, the school’s policy manual, various emails, and photographic evidence. The investigation was exhaustive and detailed.
After reviewing the evidence, there is insufficient probable cause to charge Joshua Morgan with a crime. Surveillance video and witness statements show the child disobeying his teacher, and thereafter Mr. Morgan, after refusing to participate in a class setting and refusing to go the principal’s office. Mr. Morgan admits and surveillance video shows that Mr. Morgan used a reasonable amount of force and physical restraint to move the child from a class room to the principal’s office. There is no evidence of injury or excessive force.
North Carolina General Statute § 115C-390.3 provides that school personnel may use reasonable force to control behavior or to remove a person from a scene when necessary to correct a student’s behavior and to maintain order in the classroom, among other reasons listed in the statute. Moreover, North Carolina General Statute § 115C-391.1 allows the use of physical restraint as reasonably needed to escort a student safely from one area to another, again among other reasons listed in the statute.
The investigation shows that the child refused to leave a classroom to go to the office and that Mr. Morgan used a reasonable amount of force and physical restraint t move the child from that classroom to the office, and such force was not excessive. Such conduct is justified under current law. As such, probable cause does not exist to charge Mr. Morgan with assault.