Fort Worth principal on paid leave after scuffle at Dallas bar

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by CYNTHIA VEGA

WFAA

Posted on May 10, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 11 at 1:03 AM

FORT WORTH — A Fort Worth principal remains behind bars after she was arrested for suspicion of public intoxication after police said she got into a scuffle at a Dallas bar, leaving her two children alone in a nearby hotel room.

Carla Westbrook-Spaniel, the 44-year-old principal at J.P. Elder Middle School, has been placed on paid administrative leave after her arrest early Saturday morning.

Her mug shot showed numerous bruises on her face, including one large bruise that covered the right side of her face.

Police said Westbrook-Spaniel left her two sleeping toddlers, ages three and four, alone inside an Adolphus hotel room. She then attempted to enter a downtown bar, which is where police said she became combative with bouncers when they refused to allow her inside because she didn't meet the dress code.

Military officials say they believe what happened to Westbrook-Spaniel while at the bar may be connected to the fact that her husband is a U.S. Army Reserve captain. 

Army Reserve Capt. Keith Spaniel is currently serving his third deployment to Iraq in five years time. The military is working to get her husband an emergency leave so that he can return to help with his wife's case.

Lt. Col. Kelly Broome, Commander of the 490th Civil Affairs Battalion, said he sent a chaplain to visit Westbrook-Spaniel in the Dallas County Jail.

“I understand there’s stress on family members, spouses and children and it can be petty intense,” said Broome. “We're all people and people have times when the stresses get to them and they make mistakes. We’re going to try to help her.”

Many Elder Middle School parents said they heard about it through texts their children sent one another.

"That's horrible; that's sad," said Priscilla Garcia, a mother of a J.P. Middle School student.

"She sends no example whatsoever for the children here," said Ceil Alvarado, another parent.

The school district has not yet commented on camera, but they did release a statement.

"Dr. Spaniel has a long history of excellence as a leader and an educator," said Clint Bond, with FWISD, in the statement. "We've not yet had the opportunity to speak with her about this. We will be seeking facts and details and the district will take appropriate action based on the facts."

Westbrook-Spaniel's bail was set at $30,000. Her children were taken into custody by Child Protective Services, but were later released to her husband's family.

Her husband could return to North Texas as early as 36 hours from noon Monday.

The Dallas Morning News and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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