Robin McGrath grabbed the faces of two children and screamed at them, then tipped one of the boys back in his chair and slammed it on the ground repeatedly, according to a student assistant in the room.
The woman testified Wednesday afternoon at the assault trial of the principal of a K-6 school in Conception Bay South.
She said the boy in the chair was visibly scared and began crying after McGrath slammed his chair down for the final time.
"When [McGrath] was finished with the chair actions, [the boy] began to cry," she said. "I remember for a few hours after the incident, he was obsessing about it. I told him it was OK, we would deal with it later."
She said McGrath pushed the first boy's face to the side after he was done yelling at him before turning to the boy in the chair.
Both kids have disabilities. Their conditions, the name of the school and the names of staff involved are covered by a publication ban, as it could lead to identifying the children.
Defence lawyer Ian Patey said McGrath will testify he didn't slam the chair, or push the boy's face, and that he only touched their faces to directly communicate with them.
Patey suggested one of the children was known to respond positively to a "firm approach," but the student assistant said McGrath crossed the line.
Threatened with scissors
McGrath is charged with assaulting four students, and the court heard evidence related to a fifth charge on Wednesday — uttering threats to a child.
A substitute teacher took the stand in the morning to speak about her experiences in the six weeks she worked at the K-6 school where Robin McGrath was principal in 2017-18.
The woman said McGrath came to her classroom on several occasions to physically move a child into what's known as a quiet room — a sensory space where the boy could calm down when he was acting out.
On one occasion, she said, McGrath came to her classroom after the boy had ripped the wires out of an electronic whiteboard. The teacher said McGrath asked her for a pair of scissors, which she took out from a locked drawer and handed to the principal.
She said he then told the boy if he ripped the wires out again, he'd cut his fingers off.
"[The student] looked at me, surprised," the teacher said. "I don't know that he knew that Mr. McGrath didn't mean he would do it."
Despite saying McGrath had anger in his voice, the witness said she didn't think he was serious so she didn't report it.
"I never felt Mr. McGrath's intent was to harm [the student]," she said. "I thought it was just to correct him and to prevent it from happening again."
The student involved in the threats is the same boy who another witness said was assaulted by McGrath a few weeks after the alleged scissors incident.
The other witness said McGrath dragged the boy from his chair and into a cold shower, kneeing him in the back of the head in the process.
The trial will break on Thursday morning, before resuming in the afternoon with the student assistant on the stand for further cross-examination.