Local News

Nash County principal replaced after student's throat slashed

Posted March 28, 2012 2:25 p.m. EDT
Updated March 28, 2012 7:08 p.m. EDT

— The principal of a Nash County high school where a student's throat was slashed last week has been replaced, the Nash-Rocky Mount Public School System said Wednesday.

Connie Bobbitt, who was the principal at Southern Nash High School, will be reassigned to an administrative position that has yet to be determined, Superintendent Anthony Jackson said in a news release.

A 15-year-old girl at the school was charged last week with attempted first-degree murder after, Nash County sheriff's deputies say, she used a scalpel to cut 16-year-old Jasmine Barnes' throat during a class change.

The teen suspect also faces a charge of possession of a weapon on school grounds.

Investigators haven't commented on a motive for the attack.

In a statement to WRAL News, Jackson said his decision to replace Bobbitt with Nash Central Middle School principal Mark Cockrell was "totally focused on doing what is right to support the needs of the entire school community."

"I am confident that this change is supportive and respectful of the toll that events like these take on those who are closely involved," he said. "Now, as a result of the change, the entire school community can begin the process of focusing on regrouping, rebuilding, recovering and ultimately healing as they move forward."

Neither Bobbitt nor Cockrell could be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Jackson was unavailable for further comment, but district spokeswoman Sandra Drum said the decision was the best solution for the school at this time.

"The leadership of this school has gone through a tremendous amount with the events of the last two weeks, in particular," she said. "It was determined that it would be better for that leadership, as well, for the school community to be able to start fresh."

Meanwhile, the suspect charged in the school attack – authorities aren't releasing her name because she is a juvenile – is in the custody of the county's juvenile justice department, the Nash County Sheriff's Office says.

The school system says that although the principal and teachers knew nothing about the attack, at least five students knew it was a possibility but didn't report it.

As a result, the district has started a program called "My Safe School," where anyone go online, call, text or send an email to report concerns or rumors. Students can do so without having to worry about reprisal from their peers.

"We feel this will be a very effective way, or at least one piece of the puzzle, in handling the safety situations in our schools," Drum said.

Barnes is recovering from her injury at home.

"She is doing very well, taking it day-by-day," her mother, Stephanie Barnes, said Wednesday.

She declined to comment on Bobbitt being replaced, but said that she believes the blame ultimately lies with the teen who attacked her daughter.