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Hiatt Middle School principal returns following assault allegations

Des Moines Public School said the investigator found no evidence of wrongdoing by Principal Joseph Green.

DES MOINES, Iowa — As of Tuesday afternoon Hiatt Middle School Principal, Joseph Green has returned to the office. The principal was put on administrative leave on Nov. 29 after being sued by the parents of a student who claim he assaulted their child. 

Following an investigation, Des Moines Public schools stated in a press release that the outside investigator found no evidence of wrongdoing by the principal. The release said that DMPD also reviewed the situation against Green and found the allegation to be "completely unfounded."

Original story:

A Des Moines middle school principal is on leave while being sued by parents of a student who claim he assaulted their child.

The lawsuit, filed by Laquisha Fountain and Deandre Smith Sr. on behalf of their minor child, involves an alleged incident between Hiatt Middle School principal Joseph Green and that child, who was a student the school. 

According to court documents, that child was involved in an altercation with another student on Wednesday, Nov. 16, and after being separated, Green allegedly confronted the child.

"The principal came up and apprehended my client so violently and aggressively that it did break skin with his fingernail marks on his left arm, I believe, and caused bruising and thereafter he also screamed in my client's face," said Ben Lynch, the family's attorney.

Des Moines police confirmed they are looking at an incident at Hiatt from the date the lawsuit describes, but did not provide further details on what and who they are investigating due to the involvement of a juvenile. 

No criminal charges have been filed in the case.

DMPS officials did confirm that Green is on administrative leave, and has been since Nov. 16. However, they called the reason for the leave a "confidential personnel matter."

The lawsuit names both Green and DMPS as defendants.

In a statement, district officials said:

"The school district’s attorney will review the claims being made in this filing and our responses will be made accordingly within the legal process. The school district will vigorously defend itself against this lawsuit."

The lawsuit accuses Green and DMPS of assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Additionally, the suit alleges the district was negligent when hiring and training Green. He has been employed with DMPS since 2000 and began serving as Hiatt's principal in 2019.

The family's attorney said they are hoping the lawsuit will make Hiatt a safer place for all of its students.

"They're trying to make sure that this doesn't happen again, they want to make sure that policies are changed, people are held accountable. And students are safe when they go to school, especially from probably the person who is most important to the school," Lynch said.

According to Lynch, the student involved in this case is currently being homeschooled while the lawsuit is ongoing.

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