NBC10.com - Keith Jones
Angry parents are demanding that a school board member allegedly caught on camera attacking a police officer in front of a gym be fired. But members of the school board say their hands are tied. NBC10's Keith Jones has the details.
Parents rallied outside the school district building of a small South Jersey town Monday night, demanding that a board member who allegedly assaulted a police officer be fired immediately.
Penns Grove School Board Member Walter Hudson, 33, attacked an officer, according to witnesses at the scene, at Penns Grove Middle School last week. New surveillance video obtained by NBC10 shows a man, who police identified as Hudson, tossing the officer to the ground as children run to the opposite end of the school gym.
Witnesses told NBC10 that the ordeal began as several youth basketball teams were being dismissed. A large group of teens had gathered on school grounds, prompting officials to call police to break up the crowd. As officers tried to manage the crowd, Hudson allegedly interfered. When police warned Hudston to back off, he allegedly shoved an officer to the ground and punched him.
"The officer advised him he was going to be arrested and that's when the altercation happened," said Penns Grove Police Chief Gary Doubledee, who added the assault victim was hospitalized with a torn labrum and had to be sedated. The officer's colleagues tell NBC10 he is still being treated for his injury a week later. They also claim it's the same shoulder that he tore last year.
Hudson was charged with aggravated assault but was released after posting bail on Saturday. During the school board meeting Monday night, parents who attended inside as well as protesters outside the building demanded that the board get rid of Hudson. School board members say their hands are tied however.
"File a complaint,' said Solicitor Mark Toscano of the Penns Grove Board of Education. "Press charges if you feel that way because this board doesn't have the legal ability to give you the redress that you seek."
According to Toscano, under the law the board can't discipline one of its members. Instead it's up to the school ethics commission. Parents say they filed complaints but were told that officials were investigating.
"I'm very disappointed in the whole thing," said Penns Grove Borough Councilman Carl Washington. "But again, my main concern is the youth."
Washington claims that prior to last week's incident, there has never been any sort of violence during the basketball league in 17 years. League officials say they're not allowing Hudson to attend any future events.