The Bunbury deputy principal who won widespread support after video emerged of him tackling a pupil while trying to break up a school fight has taken leave to be with his family, just days after being reinstated.
Eaton Community College associate principal Grant Walton yesterday would not reveal why he had requested a two-week leave of absence, saying it was a matter related to his family.
Education Department director-general Lisa Rodgers said the 50-year-old teacher was going through a tough time.
“It’s been a difficult period for Mr Walton and he’s applied for, and been granted, leave,” Ms Rodgers said.
Mr Walton was stood down by the department during its investigation of a fight between students two months ago.
Video later emerged which showed the long-serving teacher tackling a 13-year-old boy to the ground while trying to break up the fight on the school oval.
Footage of the incident, in which Mr Walton swept the student’s legs from under him and pinned him down, went viral and sparked widespread community debate about the level of physical intervention open to teachers.
Mr Walton was cleared to return to work last Friday after being reprimanded for his actions and ordered to undergo training in managing student conflict and antisocial behaviour.
Mr Walton said he could not say much about why he had taken leave, but confirmed he would return to work in two weeks.
“I can’t comment,” he said. “It’s about my family and I try not talk about my family.”
He said he was “absolutely” looking forward to getting back to the school and he was grateful for the “tremendous” support he had received. Speaking at the time of his reinstatement, Mr Walton said the investigation process had been exhausting.
Parent Linda Bird, who organised a petition in support of Mr Walton when he was stood down, said the effect and stress the investigation would have had on the deputy was obvious.
She said those rallying behind Mr Walton still supported him.
“We all still have his back and we only want the best for an awesome teacher,” she said.
“He’s put his blood and sweat into that school over 15 years. He doesn’t deserve this at all.”
She also said parents were considering pulling their children from a planned trip to Canberra if Mr Walton was not back at school.