School board candidate charged with simple battery

COVINGTON -- A candidate seeking election to the Newton County Board of Education is awaiting a legal decision on misdemeanor charges of simple battery stemming from a December incident at Liberty Middle School.

In January, the Newton County Sheriff's Office served a warrant on Christine Brown, of 135 Dunning Keep, Covington, who is a Democratic candidate for District 3 on the school board in the July 20 primary, after an incident on Dec. 16, 2009, according to NCSO spokesman Lt. Mark Mitchell.

Around 3:40 p.m. that day, a school resource officer was notified that an adult female became irate after a conference, allegedly throwing her purse, striking school Principal Victor Lee in the arm, Mitchell said.

When the SRO deputy arrived, the female had already left the school campus, and the deputy obtained information and witness statements.

Sherri Davis-Viniard, director of public relations at the Newton County School System, said the incident was not a system issue.

"We understand that an incident did occur and the principal, Mr. Lee, reported it to authorities," she said Friday, adding that Lee is away and is scheduled to return from summer break next week.

Brown said Friday that she had problems with her daughter's special-needs teacher at Liberty, who she alleged called her daughter names although she has never before had discipline problems. At the December meeting, Brown said her daughter became upset, causing her to become upset, too.

Brown said she complained to school officials about the teacher, adding that she did not know of any action that resulted from her complaint. Viniard said no disciplinary action was taken against the teacher, who is no longer employed with NCSS.

Brown, who is a parent of two children, said she is looking forward to being exonerated. If elected, she said she wants to be involved in the education of her children and doesn't want any situations like this to occur to any other children.

Litigation is currently pending.

According to state elections law, persons who have been convicted of a crime of "moral turpitude" are not eligible to vote and, therefore, cannot seek public office. Brown is still eligible to seek election on the Board of Education.

News Editor Barbara Knowles contributed to this article.