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Teacher gets charged with battery

COVINGTON - A teacher at Middle Ridge Elementary School was taken into custody by Newton County authorities earlier this month following an altercation he allegedly had with a 10-year-old student.

The suspect, Samuel Michael Walston, 43, of Lithonia, allegedly shoved the boy inside a restroom at the school on Feb. 5, after he pulled him out of class.

"The juvenile said (Walston) grabbed him by the shirt and forced him into the wall of the bathroom," said Sharron Stewart, spokeswoman for the Newton County Sheriff's Office. Stewart said there were several other students who reportedly witnessed the assault.

Walston, who turned himself in to authorities several days after the alleged incident took place, has since resigned from the school system.

Stewart said Walston denies the allegation, stating that he merely bumped into the student with "two fingers."

Walston told authorities that he pulled the boy out of class to keep him from becoming a disruption. Stewart said he then stated that he saw the boy's book bag lying outside the bathroom, at which point he went in to talk with the student.

"(Walston) said the student made soft contact with the wall and he then asked him if wanted to see the nurse and he refused," Stewart said.

Walston has been charged with one count of simple battery in connection with the incident.

"Yes, we are aware of the arrest report. We are cooperating with law enforcement. He is tendering his resignation and thus it will no longer be a personnel issue," said Dr. Steven Whatley, according to a statement released by the Newton County School System. "It is our procedure not to comment about personnel issues involving a criminal investigation. Obviously, we can't discuss specifics in regard to students. Policies of the Board of Education are located on our Web site."

As of press time Friday, repeated attempts to contact Whatley for more information were unsuccessful.

Staff Reporter Michelle Floyd contributed to this story.

Joel Griffin can be reached at joel.griffin@newtoncitizen.com.