The principal at Coolidge High School in northwest D.C. pleaded not guilty to simple assault and was released on her own recognizance Friday.
Principal Thelma Jarrett turned herself in Thursday on the misdemeanor charge stemming from a scuffle outside the school after a homecoming football game, according to police. She was one of three Coolidge staffers arrested for assault, according to Ward 4 Council member Muriel Bowser.
Mayor Vincent Gray called Jarrett a “terrible role model – if you can call it that.”
“This is exactly what we don’t want our leaders to do, and to have our principals engage in this kind of behavior and then to be incarcerated as a result of that is really shameful,” he said.
Jarrett's lawyer, Edward Leyden, said his client will be exonerated at trial.
“This has been a terrible ordeal for Principal Jarrett,” said Edward Leyden, Jarrett’s attorney. “The facts on this case just seem to be incredible.”
Former Coolidge employee Rashida King Hicks, 37, filed a complaint about the Nov. 2 fight. According to the police report, Hicks said she was talking to others at the game, including Jarrett, when school employee Donna Pixley began arguing with her and calling her names. A crowd gathered and Jarrett yelled, “Get her,” so Pixley struck the victim, the victim told police.
Hicks said she was soon on the ground, besieged by kicks and punches. Her husband told News4 his wife doesn’t know why she was attacked.
“She was punched, blindsided, and kicked after that,” Kwan Hicks said.
"We've had incidents where athletic events have been places where young people have got into fights,” Gray said. “The principals ought to be there to be a calming, meditating force -- a role model for kids in how you deal with controversy."
Jarrett’s lawyers say the principal was not a part of the attack but was trying to stop it.
“Principal Jarrett was doing her job in maintaining the security and safety of the stadium,” Leyden said. “She is, after all, the principal.”
Jarrett was suspended pending the outcome of an investigation, Gray said. The school system told the Associated Press all three staffers involved in the investigation are on administrative leave.
“Chancellor (Kaya) Henderson has assured me that a swift investigation is under way and that she has ensured stable leadership during this time,” Bowser said in a statement released Thursday. “I am confident in her interim plan for students and families.”