Principal, school resource officer arraigned in assault cases

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A Shenandoah County principal and a school resource officer were arraigned Thursday morning for allegedly assaulting a child.

Former Ashby Lee Elementary school principal Stephen Povlish III and former Shenandoah County Sheriff’s deputy Tabatha Baker-Whitacre appeared at the Shenandoah County Juvenile and Domestic Relations court for their charges of assault and battery against a 5-year-old student.

The charges stem from several incidents occurring on August 16 and 17, 2018. During that time, Baker-Whitacre was the school’s resource officer. The Sheriff’s Office first became aware of the allegations the afternoon of August 17.

According to the Shenandoah County Sheriff Tim Carter, “the initial allegation involved the [school resource officer] striking the five-year-old child in face.”

However, in the following days, the Office received additional information about a number of separate incidents involving the same child.

“Two of these other incidents involved the same school resource officer and the same five-year-old child,” said Carter. “While one additional occurrence involved a school official” who would later be named as Povlish.

Baker-Whitaker was placed on unpaid administrative leave during the Office’s internal review and was fired on August 20.

Povlish is still employed by the school district, but was replaced by Tiffani Utz on October 22. 

While Shenandoah County superintendent of schools Dr. Mark Johnston said he could not comment on personnel matters, he said that “with Ms. Utz there as principal, the students are in very good hands. School is going along very well.” 

Povlish declined to comment on the incident and Baker-Whitacre could not be reached for comment. 

Both are due back in court on January 31, 2019. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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