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Warrant: Kell teacher slapped student’s bottom

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Trudie Donovan – Booking photo/Cobb County Sheriff

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James Bringham – Booking photo/Cobb County Sheriff

Kell High School teacher James Chadwick Brigham, 37, is accused of slapping a female student’s buttocks in a classroom on May 17, according to a warrant for his arrest.

Brigham was booked into Cobb Jail on Thursday night on a felony charge of sexual battery and two counts of misdemeanor simple battery, and he was released early Friday on $25,000 bond.

He is married and lives in Woodstock, according to jail records.

On May 14, he slapped a student’s face with an open hand, which resulted in one of the battery charges, according to the warrant. In the other instance, he is accused of caressing the arm of a student and saying “Don’t act like you don’t like it,” according to the warrant. That happened sometime between May 1 and May 25, according to the warrant, and also occurred inside a classroom.

Trudie Donovan, 61, the longtime principal at Kell High School who suddenly announced her retirement earlier this month, was booked into the Cobb County Jail on Thursday night on a charge of failing to report child abuse, a misdemeanor. School personnel are mandated to report suspected abuse within 24 hours. Donovan turned herself in about 7 p.m. Thursday was released just before midnight that night on $1,000 bond.

Cobb School District spokesman Jay Dillon refused to comment on the case Thursday night. District offices are closed on Fridays during the summer.

Donovan is the second Cobb principal charged this year with failure to report suspected abuse. In March, former Tapp Middle School Principal Dr. Jerry Dority and a counselor at that school were charged with failure to report suspected sexual abuse of a student. Both were fired by the district in April.

A note on Kell’s website references Donovan’s retirement but says nothing of the charges filed against her or Brigham.

“As many of you may already be aware, Ms. Donovan has decided that after 34 years of service in education and six years of leadership at Kell High School that it is time for her to embark on a new chapter of her life in retirement,” the note states. “As she has shared with us ‘her garden in the mountains is calling.’ Her last day at Kell High School will be on June 28th of this year. Rest assured she still plans on enjoying the students and community at Kell High School and will continue to support our programs that she loves so much. This includes assisting those students who would like tutoring in math.”

Donovan was named Kell’s principal in 2006 after serving as an associate principal at Harrison High for four years. She started in the Cobb County School District in 1978 as a teacher at Walton High, where she stayed until 2000. She also served as an administrative assistant and assistant principal at South Cobb High in her 30-plus years with the district.

When Donovan announced her retirement, the community expressed regret at losing the well-respected principal.

Carole Kell, the widow of coach Corky Kell, whom the school is named after, said she is a good friend of Donovan’s and that it will be tough to replace someone as loved by the students, faculty and community as she is.

“The Kell community is losing a truly devoted person who is an excellent administrator. I’m very, very sorry to see her go, but I certainly support her decision to retire at this time,” she said at the time. “The major thing about Trudie, other than her enthusiasm, is the fact that she believed in athletics and academics equally and made a difference in both of those areas and was a friend to every student at that school.”

School board member Kathleen Angelucci, who represents Kell, echoed Kell’s comments about her student commitment. Both of Angelucci’s daughters attended Kell while Donovan was principal.

“I had a good working and personal relationship with her, as a parent and board member, and I have always felt that students were everything to her,” Angelucci said earlier this month.

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal, June 22, 2012. Written by Kim Isaza and John Road. This is a developing story, read more at The Marietta Daily Journal – Former principal charged with failure to report child abuse)

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