FOX19 Investigates: Local principal receives 5 year suspension f - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

FOX19 Investigates: Local principal receives 5 year suspension from Board of Education

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - Suspended principal Catie Blum, of St. John the Baptist, is no longer in her position at the school. 

In March, FOX19 Investigates learned Blum faced suspension and could have her license revoked. The State Board of Education ruled to suspend her principal's and teacher's license for five years on Tuesday.

Documents show the suspension stems from an incident in March of 2012 when Blum “yelled at a special needs student, and as a result the student was hospitalized.” The documents also say earlier this year, Blum sent an email that disclosed confidential information about the student in a non-professional manner.

[Related: FOX19 Investigates: Archdiocese principal could have license revoked for yelling at child with autism]

When FOX19 Investigates visited the school on Dry Ridge Road Thursday, we were repeatedly told Blum was “unavailable.” When we called the school, Blum answered and identified herself.

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati says they received an official notification of her suspension at 3:03 p.m. Thursday. That's when they removed Blum from the school.

FOX19 NOW spoke to a woman who was a school psychologist in the building at the time of the incident who says she heard it, and saw it happen.

"It devastated him. The words that she used devastated him,” that witness said.

The witness said those words she says she heard from Blum in 2012 are hard to forget.

"The words that I remember the most are, 'Stop blaming your behaviors on your autism,'” she tells FOX19 NOW.

This witness says the tongue lashing could be heard by other students in the hallway at the time. She went into a school restroom, and when she came out, she claims the shouting continued in a classroom.

"She was at him and just screaming with spittle flying out of her mouth,” the witness said.

She says the screaming went on for "quite a while."

"Berating him for hiding in the bathroom, for not doing his homework. You have to do better. Just quit blaming your behaviors on your autism,” the witness explained.

Eventually, she says, the principal stopped and left the room to do the afternoon announcements.

"This child was inconsolable. Inconsolable. He was hitting his head. He was pounding his chest. He was stomping around the room. He got in a fetal position,” said that witness.

As a school psychologist, she was familiar with the student and had known him for quite some time. The child's mother was called and picked the student up from school that day.

"Later on that night she had taken this child to the hospital and he wanted to kill himself,” the witness tells FOX19 NOW.

This witness testified in a hearing with the Ohio Department of Education about the incident in September.

"You can't blame a child for behaviors of their disability,” she said.

The witness tells FOX19 NOW that she doesn't believe the school is totally equipped to educate special needs children.

"I had written to the priests a couple of times my opinion on how the children with disabilities were treated within that school. As far as what I could perceive, nothing was done,” she said.

The witness tells FOX19 NOW her contract was not renewed at the school at the end of the year when the incident happened. She also tells us that she has been in touch with the student in the last few days and says he's now happy and excelling in his 9th grade classes.

State law says that once the state superintendent signs the suspension, it would preclude Blum from “performing any educational activity in the state of Ohio."

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati says they are considering an appeal, citing the fact that the State Board of Education ruling to suspend Blum's license conflicted with a hearing officer's recommendation that Blum should not face discipline.

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