Brittany Lawonn, Published July 17 2008
Clay County commissioner up for reelection accused of slapping student; declines comment on assault chargeUPDATED 4:26 p.m.
MOORHEAD - Clay County Commissioner Jerry Waller is accused of fifth-degree assault for slapping a male student across the face during a wood shop class at Dilworth Glyndon Felton High School in May.
Clay County District Court documents state:
The 16-year-old student, who is not identified in the police report, told authorities Waller was joking around with a student and was accidently hit in the lip with a pen or a pencil. Waller became upset and several students began to laugh.
The boy said Waller then turned to him and asked “Do you think that’s (expletive deleted) funny?”
The boy responded, “Well, yeah kind of” and Waller slapped him on the right side of the face with an open hand.
The boy told investigators the slap hurt and “was hard enough to cause him to turn his head.”
The boy’s parents confronted Waller, who initially said nothing happened.
The parents asked again, and Waller said “I guess I kind of took my anger out on your child.”
When interviewed by police, Waller said a student made a derogatory comment about women and he reacted to that comment, not the students laughing at him or his lip being hit.
Waller also said he does not have a habit of slapping kids and thinks maybe “subconsciously he was defending himself,” the police report reads.
Waller, 52, has been on the county commission since 1997. He is currently seeking reelection.
His first appearance on the misdemeanor is set for July 28.
Waller, who returned a phone call Thursday afternoon, referred comments to his attorney, Paul Thorwaldsen of Detroit Lakes, Minn.
Thorwaldsen said Waller has been teaching for 17 years and has not had any deficiency problems in the past.
“The entire situation is unfortunate," he said.
For more on this story, see Friday’s Forum.