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Prince George's County high school principal placed on leave as video appears to show fight involving student

School system officials in suburban Maryland placed a principal on leave Wednesday as a video posted online appeared to show him involved in a fight with a student.

But the county’s police chief said Thursday that a closer examination of the video by police shows the student at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Springdale placing his hand in the face of the principal, Gorman Brown.

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“What is viewed by some to be a blow [by the principal], we believe is actually the principal swiping the hand away,” Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski said. At that point, he said, “the student does deliver a blow to the principal.”

Stawinski, who said police slowed the images and examined the video in depth, also noted that a school resource officer was present throughout the encounter.

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On Wednesday, the student was charged with assault, the chief said.

The video, he said, shows the end of a 15-second confrontation that capped a string of inter­actions that took place over two hours.

An investigation is underway to look at the actions of the student, the principal and the faculty and to determine whether additional charges should be filed against anyone, he said. Police were looking for any other video recordings that offer other perspectives on the day’s events.

Brown, reached by phone Thursday, declined to comment.

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The incident started at 1:20 p.m. Wednesday, police said, when Brown was asked to locate a student who had been disruptive in class. Brown found the student in a hallway and approached him, with the school resource officer was present.

According to county police, the officer intervened with foam pepper spray after seeing the student assault the principal several times.

The student was taken into custody and brought to a nurse’s office so that his face could be washed, police said, but he refused further medical treatment and was later released from police custody.

School system spokeswoman Raven Hill said school officials were investigating the incident.

They sent a letter home to parents Wednesday, saying that the safety of students and staff is paramount and that safe learning environments are “our collective responsibility.”

The incident was first reported by WJLA-TV, which obtained video from the scuffle.

Brown came to public attention after a hidden camera was found inside his high school office last spring.

He and two other employees filed a lawsuit in September that alleged the camera — inside what looked to be a smoke detector — violated their constitutional right “to be free from government intrusion and invasion” into their “private and personal space.”

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