Calera principal pleads guilty to third-degree harassment charge

Published 11:20 am Thursday, February 10, 2011

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

Calera High School Principal Richard Bishop pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor third-degree harassment charge Jan. 26 stemming from an incident at a basketball game between Calera and Thompson High School at THS in December, said Alabaster Police Deputy Chief Curtis Rigney.

Thompson Assistant Principal Angela McKnight filed the charges after the incident, alleging Bishop grabbed her arm and jerked her toward him.

Bishop was fined $673, including $173 in court costs. The court suspended his 90-day jail sentence and instead placed him on two years probation. Bishop is not to have any contact with McKnight outside what is mandated by their employer, the Shelby County School District.

Bishop posted $800 bail and was released shortly after his arrest on Dec. 17.

Bishop did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment. McKnight did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Shelby County Schools spokesperson Cindy Warner said the school board has concluded its separate investigation into the matter.

“Shelby County School Administrators have investigated the matter, confirmed that it has been addressed in a court proceeding, and taken appropriate remedial steps to prevent any similar occurrence to happen in the future,” Warner said in a prepared statement. “Randy Fuller, Shelby County Superintendent, expressed his appreciation for the co-operation school officials have received from local school personnel at both schools; from law enforcement officials; and from many people at the school following the game. Given the jurisdiction of the court regarding this matter, further comment would be inappropriate.”

According to an Alabaster Police Department report in December, McKnight told police Bishop grabbed her by the left arm “very tightly” and jerked her toward him to inform her he had been slapped by a Thompson student following a game between the two schools Dec. 16.

McKnight’s statement to police said she asked Bishop to let go of her arm and she would handle the Thompson students.

McKnight’s statement alleges Bishop, still holding her arm firmly, yelled at her for not taking immediate disciplinary action against the student. McKnight told police she asked Bishop to let go of her and jerked herself away from him.

McKnight’s statement alleges fellow Thompson administrators Keri Johnson and Jeff Atkins also witnessed the incident, as did Alabaster police officers John Kessler, Josh White and Alabaster Police Chief Stanley Oliver.

The police report states McKnight informed Thompson Principal Robin Thomas and Donna Dickson, the student support supervisor for Shelby County Schools, about the incident.

McKnight, contacted at Thompson High School on Jan. 7, would not comment on the incident.

Warner said an investigation is school board policy anytime personnel are accused of professional misconduct.

“Our practice in every case where there are allegations of professional misconduct is to thoroughly investigate and deal appropriately with the situation once all the facts are known,” Warner said.

Bishop was hired as the Calera High School principal in June 2008 after brief stints with Calera Industrial Supply, which sold supplies to contractors working on the new Calera High School, and Taylor Publishing.

Bishop served as the Tarrant High School principal on two separate occasions and spent one academic year as the principal at Hoover High School in 2006-2007.