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Superintendent addresses Wednesday school bus fight involving assistant principal

By Maria Rakoczy

MADISON – Madison City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols stood by the actions of James Clemens assistant principal James Watts after videos of an altercation on a school bus involving Watts hit social media.

Nichols held a press conference Thursday morning to address the incident that occurred around 3:40 p.m. on Wednesday at James Clemens High School. The altercation included an assault on the assistant principal by a student while students were boarding buses to return home for the day.

According to Nichols, the assistant principal received six to ten blows to the back of his head along with a bite wound as he stepped in to break up a fight. The administrator jumped in to end the altercation after the bus driver called for assistance. Cell phone footage recorded by bystanders reportedly shows the assistant principal striking a student in the face in the process. Nichols said the action of the staff member in question was in self-defense after being assaulted in the head and being bit by the student.

“He felt the need to protect himself, and he did so,” Nichols stated. “I don’t want our employees to feel like they can’t protect themselves. They had no choice. They could not stand on the sidelines.”

Nichols said that the footage making rounds on social media was only a snippet of the full event. The two students involved in the incident have been suspended from school, and the district currently has no plans to reprimand the assistant principal. Investigations are ongoing by law enforcement.

Madison City Schools shared photos showing bite marks on the arm of the assistant principal.

Before joining the staff at James Clemens, Watts held the same position at Sparkman High School from 2015 to 2019.

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