North Elem. principal fired after being charged with failing to report student abuse

Published: Jul. 19, 2023 at 12:14 PM EDT
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - Officials have voted to fire Natalie Webb, the principal at North Elementary School in Morgantown, after she was charged with failing to properly report cases of student abuse.

The Monongalia County Board of Education voted unanimously last week to terminate Webb’s contract.

Webb’s firing stems from an incident that happened on Jan. 26.

After an eight-year-old student became “disruptive” in a classroom, staff members, including then-North Elementary Vice Principal Carol Muniz, went to escort the child to another room, according to court documents.

During the escort, the student “actively resisted,” at which time Muniz raised her hand, made a fist, and struck the student in the head, investigators wrote in a criminal complaint.

Webb was made aware of the situation within minutes, the complaint says, adding that Webb indicated on two separate occasions that a report would be filed with Child Protective Services.

No report was made until Webb was told to do so by Board of Education staff when they were made aware of the situation on Feb. 7 -- 12 days after Muniz allegedly struck the student.

A week after it was reported, Webb and Muniz were placed on leave.

Webb was charged with not reporting the situation, and Muniz was charged with battery.

Since the incident, Muniz has retired, and on Thursday, July 13, the Board of Education voted to terminate Webb’s contract. Webb was North Elementary’s principal for 12 years.

Webb’s attorney, Drew Capuder, said she will appeal the decision. Additionally, Capuder said in a statement that Webb was not present nor witnessed any of the incidents.

Capuder said Webb did not immediately report the incident because she assessed the situation and deemed it to be non-reportable.

Capuder also said Monongalia County Schools Superintendent Eddie Campbell “did not give Principal Webb a full and fair opportunity to provide relevant testimony before disciplinary decisions were made.”

Below is Capuder’s statement in its entirety:

My client, Natalie Webb, principal at North Elementary, has been the target of an investigation by the Monongalia County Schools Superintendent’s Office since February 10, 2023. During a hearing on July 13, 2023, the Monongalia County Board of Education upheld Superintendent Eddie Campbell’s recommendation to terminate her employment. We are very disappointed in the Monongalia County Board of Education’s decision to uphold the Superintendent’s recommendation. The decision was wrong and was not justified by the facts and the law. We are legally challenging these actions.

The public information and rumors surrounding student behavioral incidents at North Elementary have been grossly mischaracterized and inaccurately reported by the news media and social media outlets. Principal Webb was not present at and did not witness any of these incidents. Principal Webb’s role was to take swift and appropriate investigative actions as soon as she learned of the incidents.

Principal Webb has been denied due process and has been “guilty until proven innocent” since the very beginning of Superintendent Campbell’s investigation. Superintendent Campbell did not give Principal Webb a full and fair opportunity to provide relevant testimony before disciplinary decisions were made.

Principal Webb has been an educator in Monongalia County for over 28 years and she has been the principal at North Elementary for 12 years. Principal Webb is a three-time national board-certified teacher who has launched innovative and award-winning academic programs at North Elementary which include a garden-based learning program, outdoor classroom, a pollinator garden, and a MakerSpace.

North Elementary has been recognized for its stellar achievement throughout the state. North’s students continually place in the top 5% of all schools in West Virginia, for overall test scores in reading and math. Niche, a leader in connecting schools with students and families, rated North Elementary as the #1 Best Elementary School in the state of West Virginia multiple times during Webb’s leadership.

Principal Webb is confident that she will ultimately be vindicated by the legal process.

From Drew M. Capuder, counsel for Principal Natalie Webb


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