Connecticut principal accused of being abusive to kids

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Two Bridgeport school employees have testified that an elementary school principal was abusive to students, including hitting the head of a boy who suffers seizures and dragging a crying girl by the hood of her jacket to the school office.

The employees testified before the city school board this week at the termination hearing of Tisdale School principal Carmen Perez Dickson, who has been suspended with pay and faces the possibility of being fired over the allegations.

Dickson declined to comment on the accusations. Her lawyer, Josephine Miller, said Dickson will testify, possibly as early as Sept. 4, when the hearing continues. The proceeding has been held on six nights over the past three months.


School secretary Elvia Camella and teacher’s aide Melinda Lawrence testified that they heard what they believed was Dickson ‘‘popping’’ a 5-year-old boy in the head. They said they did not see it, but saw the boy holding his head after they heard the sound.

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Camella and Lawrence said they heard the student shout: ‘‘Are you crazy, lady? I get seizures.’’

Camella said she also saw Dickson drag a crying kindergarten girl by the hood of her jacket from her classroom to the school office.

Assistant principal Charmaine Worthy also testified that Dickson slammed a baseball bat on her desk in front of a student with multiple disabilities, when the student began touching items on Dickson’s desk. Worthy said the child appeared startled and afraid afterward.

Supporters of Dickson, who has been with the school system for 35 years, say she is a no-nonsense principal who brought order to Tisdale School. They have questioned the timing of the allegations, which came last year after the state Supreme Court overturned a $1.3 million verdict awarded to Dickson in a harassment and discrimination lawsuit against the district.


The court ruled Dickson failed to prove the allegations.