D.A. asked to drop charges against principal

Published 5:44 pm Saturday, December 15, 2007

By Staff
Edwards says he will consider request
By DOUG GIBBS and CLAUD HODGES, Washington Daily News staff
District Attorney Seth Edwards will consider a letter from the Hyde County Board of Education asking him to drop all charges against the principal of Mattamuskeet High School.
The school board approved the letter during its regular meeting Tuesday at the Ocracoke Community Center.
Early in the school year, Randolph Latimore, principal of the high school, was charged for failing to report that a student carried a BB gun in his backpack on an activity bus.
In its letter, the board tells Edwards that Latimore came to Mattamuskeet School from the State of Virginia and was not familiar with the requirement to report the incident to the Hyde County Sheriff’s Department. According to the letter, the principal thought that he had handled the matter according to the law. The letter also states that the request was made because of Latimore’s clean record as an educator in Virginia for the past 30 years.
Board member Eric Cahoon cast the lone vote against sending the letter to the district attorney because he did not think it was right. Glenn Gibbs, another member of the board, indicated that he did not like the situation that the board had been put in; however, he voted for the letter in support of the principal.
Edwards was on the road attending a conference Friday, but said he would consider the matter when he returns to work Monday.
Edwards said he has taken all information given him about the case into consideration and is giving it much thought.
Given all of the school shootings across the United States in the past several years, Edwards said he is taking the matter “very seriously.”
The letter from the Hyde County Board of Education tells Edwards that, “on November 15, 2007, Dr. Latimore and all of our school administrators received two hours of detailed training on reporting requirements, including those mandated by N.C. Statute.”
The letter states that, “the ‘weapon’ in question was an inoperable BB gun that was not in the possession of anyone at the time it was found in a backpack that had been left on a school bus.”
The letter moves on and states that, “the statutes dealing with this particular reporting requirement are somewhat confusing and Dr. Latimore thought he had handled this matter responsibly.