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      Teacher releases statement following arrest

      Hazel Earle Ellerbe was arrested April 25.

      The attorney for a Darlington County teacher accused of assaulting a student at Spaulding Middle School, in Lamar, has released a statement on his behalf.

      "Chip is completely innocent of the charge and eagerly awaits his day in court for the truth to come out. Chip is a family man who has never been arrested and who has served our community as a high school and middle school teacher for twenty-one years. The student involved has a lengthy record of problems and expulsions from school. It is a shame that such a hard working teacher has to endure these baseless allegations," said Rose Mary Parham, Attorney for Hazel Earle "Chip" Ellerbe, Jr.

      The Darlington County Sheriff's Office says on April 25, deputies were called to the school by the principal.

      T he student told the principal that Ellerbe put his hand around the student's neck and slung him into the room, according to an incident report.

      The report goes on to say that Ellerbe said he had asked the student to leave his room because he was disrupting class. Ellerbe said as the student was walking out, he was still talking. Ellerbe said when he turned around with his hand out and was on the student's neck. Ellerbe said he was not trying to hurt the student and didn't mean for his hand to be near the student's neck.

      Two other students in the class told the principal they saw Ellerbe choke or push the student, according to the report.

      Ellerbe was placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.