Woodland principal faces accusations of abusing mentally disabled student

By Justin Runquist, Columbian small cities reporter

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Woodland police say their investigation of Mark Houk, the principal of Woodland Primary School, stems from allegations that he physically abused a mentally disabled third-grade student.

School employees recently brought the accusations to the attention of Superintendent Michael Green, who then informed police. Meanwhile, the district is also conducting its own internal investigation.

Police say Houk has been accused of using excessive force to restrain the child on several occasions at the school. He has been placed on administrative leave as the investigations continue.

No criminal charges have been filed against Houk, but he could face a charge of assault of a child. Police say district officials have been fully cooperative with their investigation.

Green declined to comment on any of the specifics of the case until the investigations are closed.

"Whenever there are credible accusations of wrongdoing on the part of an employee we do investigate the matter," he said in an email to The Columbian. "It is our policy to not discuss or disclose details of any investigation until that investigation is concluded."

Without going into detail, Green posted a letter to parents of Woodland Primary students on the school's website a week ago, asking them to withhold their judgment until the investigation is over.

"In many cases, when allegations are thoroughly investigated, the allegations are not supported by facts," he wrote. "Rumors grow in situations where there is limited information. I have heard some rumors in the community that are simply wrong."