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School#039;s principal placed on paid leave

Greenville Elementary School Principal Joseph West has been placed on administrative leave with pay, pending an investigation into an incident involving a student at that school.

Mike Reed, superintendent of Butler County Schools, said the alleged incident was reported to him on Aug. 30 and the Department of Human Resources is now investigating the situation.

Although Reed would not comment on specifics, sources told the Advocate the incident involved the administration of a paddling to a student.

"Right now (West) has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the results of the investigation," Reed said. "I met with the board Friday and I told them that I was going to put Mr. West on leave, which I have that authority to do based on policy."

Reed said he was advised by Pete Hamilton, attorney for the school board, not to comment on the specifics of the case or what direction the board will take once the investigation is completed. He also said he was not aware of any similar incidents involving West.

"We're waiting on the conclusion of the investigation and we'll have to make some determination based on the results," Reed said. "Then Mr. West has his right to appeal."

Greenville Police Chief Lonzo Ingram said on Tuesday that no criminal charges had been filed in the case but his department had been asked to help investigate the matter.

"DHR has passed us some information and asked us to interview some people, which we will," he said.

Ingram said the department's investigation should conclude in 48 hours and that DHR would then turn its findings over to the district attorney.

Reed planned to meet Tuesday with the faculty of the elementary school, which serves children in third and fourth grades and where West is entering his fourth year as principal. Prior to that he was assistant principal at Greenville High School for 12 years.

"School is still going on over there," said Reed, referring to the elementary school. "Teachers are teaching and students are learning and they will continue to do so."

Repeated attempts to contact West and the Department of Human Resources for comment were unsuccessful.