Grandmother strikes DHS principal with cane

September 14, 2004|TODD KLEFFMAN

A running dispute between two Danville High School students turned ugly Monday at the school when the grandmother of one of the students struck principal Joseph Payne with her cane, sending him briefly to the hospital.

Payne, who was at school this morning despite "a throbbing headache," said he received blows across his head and shoulders after he stepped into the middle of an argument between a male student and family members of a female student who had come on campus to discuss ongoing problems between the two.

"They approached a student and they were arguing with that student and I inserted myself between them," said Payne, 51, who is in his first year as DHS principal. "When my back was turned to them, things got completely out of control and I was struck over the head with a cane and got nine stitches. I feel like there were multiple blows across by shoulders and back, but only one that split my head open."


The incident occurred just outside the front door to the school shortly before 1 p.m., and students were kept in their classrooms until Danville police arrived and calmed things down.

Police identified the woman who hit Payne as Pearlie Baskin, 54, of 936 Westwood Court. No charges had been filed against Baskin this morning, but school officials are meeting with police later today to decide what, if any, action might be taken in the case, said Sgt. Tony Gray.

Baskin, who could not be reached for comment today, filed a juvenile assault complaint against the male student Monday after the altercation, Gray said. Baskin told Gray that the male student shoved her during an argument and she struck back with her cane in self defense, accidentally hitting Payne.

According to police, Baskin and her daughter, who was not identified, came to school during lunch Monday to meet with school officials about problems between Baskin's granddaughter and the male student. The ongoing conflict between the two students - which Payne said involved allegations that the male student was harassing and picking on the female student - had apparently escalated over the weekend, Gray said.

Payne described the meeting as "intense but it was under control. They were not happy, but they were not horribly angry either."

After the meeting concluded, however, Payne said he and assistant principal Winfield Smith sensed that there might be trouble and followed Baskin, her daughter and granddaughter as they left the office.

"We both perceived when they walked out of the office their intent was to go find that student," he said. "They went directly to him."

"I was bleeding like crazy..."

A confrontation immediately ensued, Payne said, and after he intervened, a blow from Baskin's metal cane across the top of his head caused him to bleed profusely. "I was bleeding like crazy, and I hate that some of the kids had to see that, but as I told coach (Sam) Harp, I think I held the line pretty well," Payne said.

Payne, Smith and other school officials were able to break up the confrontation and "had things pretty well under control" when police arrived, Gray said.

"I think if we hadn't been there it would have been a horrible situation," Payne said.

Payne was taken to Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, where he said he told doctors to hurry up with their work so he could make it back to school before classes dismissed for the day.

I was adamant at the hospital that I wanted to get back to school," he said. "Scores of kids greeted me in the hall and wanted to know how I was and hugged me. That's the measure of Danville High School, not that we had an incident where two adults came on campus.

"I'm still a little shocked that someone would hit me from behind like that, but as regards to our school community -- the kids and parents -- this is a terrific place where 95 percent of them are absolutely golden and the other 5 percent have the potential to be. This was not a defining moment for Danville High School. We will not allow something like this to sway us from our mission to support kids and help them move toward their futures."

Central Kentucky News Articles