SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — A teacher and wrestling coach at Santa Monica High School was placed on leave Friday after he got into a brawl with a student, which was caught on cellphone videos, the school district superintendent said.
In a letter to parents, Sandra Lyon, the superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, said the altercation happened in a classroom Friday morning.
“A deeply disturbing incident involving a teacher and student occurred in a classroom at Santa Monica High School, resulting in the Santa Monica Police Department being called to the campus. A number of videos capturing at least a portion of the incident are circulating, and I can tell you that what I witnessed on one of those videos is utterly alarming,” Lyon wrote.
Lyon added, “Based on what I have viewed, the kind of physical restraint used by the teacher is unacceptable. I have placed the teacher on leave pending the outcome of an independent investigation.”
KCAL9’s Bobby Kaple reported that witnesses said the incident unfolded because the student had a bag of marijuana.
When the teacher, who students identified as science teacher Mark Black, tried to confiscate it, the student got physical.
“I saw one of the teachers kinda holding onto the student in a lock and the student had a pencil and was going at the teacher with it,” junior Daniella Melamed said.
Kaple reported that one of Black’s former students called him a nice guy.
The superintendent said she has been in contact with the student’s family.
No other information was released.