Woodland Primary School principal arrested on suspicion of assault

By Justin Runquist, Columbian small cities reporter

Published:

 

Police arrested Woodland Primary School Principal Mark Houk on Thursday morning following an investigation into allegations that he physically abused a mentally disabled third-grade student.

Houk was booked into the Cowlitz County Jail on suspicion of three counts of fourth-degree assault, a gross misdemeanor, Woodland Police said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. He was released after posting bail Thursday.

Houk faces accusations of using excessive force several times Feb. 26 while trying to help others restrain the child. News of the investigation broke last month after Superintendent Michael Green reported Houk to the police.

Green placed Houk on administrative leave after police were dispatched to the school in early March. During the past several weeks, the district has conducted its own investigation.

Chief Brad Gillaspie said the police investigation took longer than expected due to the complexity and number of interviews they needed to conduct.

“It is important that we do a complete investigation even if it takes extra time,” Gillaspie said in a press release.

Green declined to comment on Houk’s arrest but did release a statement to the media:

“Student safety is one of Woodland Public Schools’ highest priorities. When we receive credible information that a staff member may have acted improperly, we act swiftly to work with Child Protective Services and/or local law enforcement to fully cooperate with their investigation.”

Police say the district has fully cooperated with their investigation, and Green plans to continue the district’s internal review of Houk’s conduct.