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Parents seek charges in class assault

By Brandon Evans | Published Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The parents of a child struck in the head with a basketball by a substitute teacher say they intend to press criminal charges.

Billy Garvin, 65, of Bowie, allegedly hit a seventh-grade boy in the head with a ball during a physical education class last Thursday at Bridgeport Middle School.

It all started when a free-play period got out of hand. After the substitute teacher was hit with several of the soft-rubber dodgeballs tossed by students, one boy collapsed to the floor, laughing. The teacher, who was holding a basketball, walked over to the boy and ordered him to get up. When he remained on the floor, the teacher threw the basketball straight down at his head.

An eighth-grade student in the class had the presence of mind to video the incident, using his school-issued iPad.

“It started out with all the kids going crazy,” he said. “I took out my video and started filming it. At first it was kind of funny. All the kids were just throwing dodgeballs at each other’s heads. (Garvin) got hit with a ball. He got angry and saw (name withheld) on the ground and he threw the basketball at his head.”

At this point, other students started pounding Garvin with dodgeballs to draw his attention away from the student on the floor.

As soon as the class was over, the student who filmed the incident took the video to Principal Travis Whisenant, who quickly responded.

“As soon as we found out, we had the substitute teacher leave campus,” Whisenant said. “Then we contacted the parents, CPS and the Bridgeport Police Department.

“This is not something at our campus that we would condone from a substitute teacher or any adult,” he added. “It was very inappropriate.”

Bridgeport ISD Superintendent Eddie Bland said the substitute’s reaction was unacceptable, no matter the provocation.

The student who was struck with the ball has not, as originally reported, undergone any brain surgeries. He did battle leukemia in 2007 and is in remission. His mother said he had a headache after the incident, but experienced no other ill effects.

Garvin, who was originally reported as being 44, has worked as a substitute in Bridgeport ISD for several years.

Bridgeport Police Chief Randy Singleton said there are several types of assault charges Garvin may face. As of press time, no arrest had been made.

CORRECTION The substitute in Saturday’s story, “Substitute dismissed after gym attack,” was misidentified. Billy Garvin, 44, of Bridgeport was not involved in the incident. The substitute teacher under investigation is Billy Garvin Sr., 65, of Bowie. The Messenger deeply regrets the error.

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