COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The Muscogee County School Board is back in session after holding its first meeting of the new year Monday night. As part of that meeting, they held a public hearing concerning a high school teacher’s conduct involving students.
Superintendent Dr. David Lewis recommended to the MCSB that John Savell, a social studies teacher at Kendrick High School, be fired for inappropriate conduct. All school board members present at Monday night’s termination hearing voted in favor of Dr. Lewis’ recommendation.
Savell represented himself at Monday night’s termination hearing. Savell has been with the Muscogee County School District since August of 2018.
He was first written up in November of 2018 for allegedly throwing a book at a wall near a student’s head. During that same class period, Savell also allegedly kicked another student’s desk. In November of 2019, Savell was reportedly involved in a physical altercation with a student during Friday detention in the school cafeteria.
“I don’t think that scooting a chair and reaching out slowly to tell a kid ‘come on’ earns me the right to get attacked because he’s the one who threw the first aggressive throw and all I did was defend. I put my hands up to block and kind of moved in to get on the inside of the throw," Savell said.
School board members got to see the surveillance video of the incident in the cafeteria. The video did not have sound, but Savell says the student sounded aggressive and made the first move.
Meanwhile, attorneys for the school district maintain that Savell made the first move. The school board voted to fire Savell.
“It was the appropriate recommendation, the appropriate decision, but again, it’s not something we take lightly and certainly no pleasure,” said Dr. David Lewis, Muscogee County School District Superintendent.
Savell says he was not prepared to handle situations involving aggressive students.
“We should definitely have more counseling, training on how to handle deescalating aggressive students, which I haven’t had any of that," Savell said.
Dr. David Lewis says every teacher gets classroom management training.
“We also have multiple online opportunities provided through our Teaching Learning Department so, there are many opportunities and in this particular situation the assistant principal, according to the principal, the assistant principal and the coach at the school had provided training as well," Dr. Lewis explained.
Savell says the school board’s decision is unfair because he was defending himself.
“That’s going to really hurt the morale of teachers and it gives the kids that want to act up in school, it gives them a boost you know. They can walk around heroes if they hurt a teacher and get him fired," Savell said.
Savell’s termination is effective immediately. He was moved to a different position within the school district while the school district still investigated.