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Tribunal recesses until March 12

Riverdale assistant principal fights for job; attorney is optimistic

Photo by Johnny Jackson 
Attorney Borquaye Thomas (left) sits with his client, Genghis Shakhan, Tuesday during a Clayton County Public Schools employment hearing. Shakhan is an assistant principal at Riverdale High School accused of unnecessarily restraining students in three separate incidents last October.

Photo by Johnny Jackson Attorney Borquaye Thomas (left) sits with his client, Genghis Shakhan, Tuesday during a Clayton County Public Schools employment hearing. Shakhan is an assistant principal at Riverdale High School accused of unnecessarily restraining students in three separate incidents last October.

JONESBORO — Riverdale High assistant principal Genghis Shakhan’s fight for his job will continue until at least March 12. Deliberations in the Clayton County Public Schools tribunal, which began Friday afternoon, will resume then.

Shakhan has been accused of using unnecessary force to restrain students in three separate altercations last October. Two are special needs “individualized educational plan” students. The Clayton County Public Schools attorney recommended his termination during a tribunal that began Feb. 20, as Shakhan and his attorney answered the charges. He has been on administrative leave since.

Shakhan’s attorney, Borquaye Thomas, remains optimistic that the tribunal will rule in his client’s favor.

“We are expecting that he will be cleared of all charges,” Thomas said Friday.

Winston Denmark is the attorney representing the school district. Denmark argued that, while students were unruly and engaged in verbal attacks — two of the incidents on Oct. 19, the other on Oct. 23 — none rose to the level of a physical threat.

Thomas argued the incidents did escalate to physical threats to his client. He said one ended in the arrest of a student who was subsequently “charged with disruption of a public school and assault.”

Stephanie Banks is the hearing officer presiding over the case with tribunal members Linda Holloman, Samuel Jackson and Arletta Brinson. The proceedings will be delayed until March 12 because at least one of the tribunal members must go out of town.

If Shakhan keeps his job, the one thing both sides seem to agree on is that he shouldn’t return to Riverdale High.

“We’re going to ask that he be reassigned to another school,” Thomas said. “We’re talking about a school [Riverdale] that is known for its violence.”

During testimony, it was revealed that a student involved in the third incident had been expelled for assaulting a school resource officer — specifically, for punching the officer in the face a month ago.