By Terrica Hendrix
Calhoun County officials have retracted information they passed on as official to this newspaper concerning a Mineral Springs School District principal charged with battery following a playoff football game.
On Dec. 11, the county’s District Court Clerk Laura Evans told The Nashville News-Leader that Mineral Springs High School Principal Clint Jones’ third-degree misdemeanor battery case had been continued to a February date due to the district judge’s unexpected health issue.
However, Jones’ case was dismissed on Dec. 6 by the Honorable Ronnie Phillips and the order of dismissal was filed in Calhoun County court on Dec. 10 – a day before the newspaper was given information about the case being continued.
Jones had a Dec. 11 court date, but his case and all other Calhoun County District Court cases were not heard last Tuesday and all had been continued because the district judge suffered a heart attack several days ago, according to Clark Evans.
Last week, MSSD Superintendent Thelma Forte confirmed that Jones was on administrative leave for several weeks. Jones and Forte confirmed that he returned to work on Dec. 17. Jones was arrested by Hampton police at the conclusion of the Mineral Springs and Hampton football playoff game on Nov. 16 after he was accused of striking a Mineral Springs woman, Rashona Vaughn, while trying to break up a scuffle on the field involving the football players, according to Hampton Police Chief Cody Wilson. The police chief reportedly witnessed Vaughn throw a punch that struck Jones and “after speaking with Vaughn and two other unbiased witnesses who all stated that Jones punched Vaughn in the face and observing a knot on the left side of Vaughn’s face, it was clear that there was a probable cause to arrest Jones” for misdemeanor third-degree battery.
However, Calhoun County Deputy Prosecutor Mary Thomason said on Monday that on Dec. 4, Chief Wilson requested that the charge against Jones be dismissed after the chief viewed slow-motion video that Wilson said proved that Jones did not strike anyone.
In fact, the deputy prosecutor said video shows that Jones was struck three times by students during the scuffle. Thomason also stated in a court document, “They are pursuing the juvenile charges in juvenile court in Calhoun County.” It is unclear who “they” are in the document.
Jones issued a statement to the News-Leader Monday that he was relieved to hear the news the charges have been dropped.
“I was placed on administrative leave during the week of Nov. 26 and I returned to work on Monday, Dec. 17. This experience has been a mixed blessing. My staff was very supportive and my first day back to work has been a good day. My students continued to thrive and teachers continued to teach and expect excellence from students. Before I became a member of the Mineral Springs staff, I was told about the cohesiveness of the faculty and staff. This experience has given me an opportunity to observe first-hand how the staff works together to create an effective learning environment for students.” Jones continued, “I am thankful for the citizen in Hampton who submitted the video footage to the Hampton Police Department. I am thankful to the Mineral Springs High School staff for their excellence in my absence. The mark of a good leader is the condition of a school when the leader is absent.”