Charged in December with striking his 17-year-old son at home during an argument, a county middle school principal will be tried tomorrow in District Court.
Richard DeLong, who has been principal of North Carroll Middle School since July 1988, was charged last December with battery stemming from a Nov. 13 argument with his son over a set of car keys.
DeLong's son, whose name is being withheld by The Carroll County Sun because he is a minor, was charged with juvenile battery in the altercation.
Court records say that DeLong and his son were arguing over the keys when the youth ran out of the house. When he returned to the Greenvale Road home to gather some of his belongings, DeLong allegedly struck him on the left side of the head, according to charging documents.
The youth was taken to Carroll County General Hospital, where the injury required five stitches, the records say.
Tomorrow's trial, set to begin at 1:30 p.m., is expected to include testimony against DeLong by his wife, Margaret; his son; a Department of Social Services counselor; and a state trooper. Director of Secondary Schools Peter B. McDowell is slated to testify on DeLong's behalf.
The common law offense does not carry any maximum or minimum sentence.
The battery charge is not the only conflict involving DeLong, his car and his son, court records show.
An October 1990 automobile accident involving DeLong's son and a South Carroll woman resulted in a $100,000 lawsuit against DeLong. The suit, filed in Circuit Court earlier this month, is seeking damages from DeLong because he is the owner of the car.
DeLong has continued to work at the 890-student school since the battery charge was filed, drawing his annual $64,119 salary. No disciplinary investigations have been conducted by the school board, and none would be conducted unless DeLong were found guilty, officials said.
According to Assistant Superintendent William H. Hyde, even a guilty finding wouldn't necessarily mean the school system would take any disciplinary action.
Such action would be taken only if his alleged offense was detrimental to "his effectiveness as a principal," Hyde said.
When the charges were first disclosed late last year, the North Carroll Middle School community was shocked. Many parents, students and teachers praised DeLong for instilling school spirit and community service into the student body.
"He's always encouraging teachers and students to get involved," Eileen Mayle, president of the school's Parent-Teacher Organization, said at the time. "He seems to have a good working relationship with the teachers and the student body. There's a real positive atmosphere there."
DeLong has spent his entire professional career in the Carroll County school system. Beginning as a teacher in the late 1960s, DeLong was an assistant principal at several schools before becoming principal of New Windsor Middle School in August 1986. His job at North Carroll followed the New Windsor job.