Gibson placed on paid leave
By By Robert Blankenship
Special to the Advance
An Escambia County school teacher was placed on leave for the remainder of the school year, pending a court date, for allegedly slapping a student at Escambia County Middle School.
Citing good name and character, the Escambia County Board of Education entered into an executive session following discussions of regular agenda items during a regularly-scheduled meeting on Thursday. When they re-adjourned Superintendent Melvin "Buck" Powell made the recommendation that Kimberly Gibson be placed on a leave of absence until her court date which is scheduled for June 2.
"I have investigated it and considering the circumstances I think it would be in the best interest of all parties, including Mrs. Gibson, that she be placed on paid leave of absence for the remainder of the school year pending the outcome of the criminal charges against her," Powell said.
Gibson attended the meeting along with her attorney, Everett Price, and teacher union official Vivian Jones. Carletta Boykin, mother of the student who made the accusations against Gibson, was also in attendance. None of the parties spoke during the meeting but were called in at one point during the executive session.
Gibson was arrested Tuesday on harassment charges which were filed by a 14-year-old in one of her classes at ECMS. Gibson turned herself in to authorities at the Atmore Police Department.
According to Carletta Boykin, her son said that Boykin slapped him "hard enough to hear it in the hall," which they claim contradicts Boykin's defense that the slap was slight and playful in nature.
Boykin said the incident began when her son saw a picture of a baby, reportedly related to Gibson, on a web site.
"He wrote that the baby looked like a rat on a note and passed it to another student," Boykin said.
"The student laughed and was going to take it to Mrs. Gibson.
He grabbed the note from the student and Mrs. Gibson asked him for the note twice and he said no and put the piece of paper in his mouth.
"Mrs. Gibson told him to go and spit the note into the garbage can. As he was walking toward the back of the class to spit the paper out, Mrs. Gibson grabbed him by his coat, turned him around and that was when she slapped him," she said.
Boykin said she was called by school officials at about 10:15 a.m. on the morning of the incident and was told about the incident.
Gibson has been charged with harassment, a misdemeanor offense.
The student's schedule was changed from Gibson's class when it was thought she might return to school.
Boykin said some school officials have attempted to turn the incident into a race problem. But, she said race has nothing to do with what happened.
Overall, Boykin said the incident has been handled professionally by school officials.
Price, Gibson's attorney, said he had no comment on the case at this time.