🍎 Principal is charged with assault of a student

🍎 He appeared in court Tuesday

🍎 Students said he was breaking up a fight

MAPLEWOOD — A community is rallying behind their high school principal who is accused of assaulting a 16-year-old female student.

Frank Sanchez, who turns 50 on Friday, is charged with second-degree child endangerment and simple assault. The principal of Columbia High School in Maplewood pleaded not guilty during a virtual appearance in Superior Court in Essex County on Tuesday, CBS New York reported.

Prosecutors said that Sanchez "pushed, shoved, and pulled" the former student in March 2023. The student's attorney, James Davis, said the student was subsequently suspended and then sent to another school.

"This student was minding her own business when she was confronted by Principal Sanchez," Davis reportedly said.

Principal Frank Sanchez (Essex County Jail/SOMA Schools)
Principal Frank Sanchez (Essex County Jail/SOMA Schools)

Officials have not said what led to the confrontation. The Essex County Prosecutor's Office did not respond to an email from New Jersey 101.5.

Students said he was breaking up a fight

It appears that students at Columbia High School are throwing their weight behind the principal, who has been on paid administrative leave since January.

One student said to CBS New York that they're making shirts that say, "Free Sanchez," on them.

Colombia High School in Maplewood (Google Maps)
Colombia High School in Maplewood (Google Maps)

Another student said to ABC 7 Eyewitness News that two female students were fighting and "wailing on each other" in the hallway. A student in her senior year said the charges against Sanchez weren't fair because he was trying to help.

Several other students said to various media outlets that they believed the charges were related to a fight.

Davis said to ABC 7 that the charges were not related to a fight involving students.

Sanchez was released from Essex County Jail after his court appearance on Tuesday, according to jail records. His next appearance is scheduled for June 14.

Related: NJ high school principal charged with assaulting student

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