SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — An 18-year-old Santa Monica High School student pleaded not guilty Tuesday to assault and drug possession charges in connection with a fight with a teacher, authorities said.
Blair Moore, of Los Angeles, was charged with two counts of threatening a public school official, one count of possession of a box cutter on school grounds, one count of possession of less than 28.5 grams of marijuana on school grounds, and one count of force or violence against a school employee in retaliation for an act performed in the course of his or her duties—all misdemeanors.
Moore was released on his own recognizance. He’s due back in court April 22.
Moore was charged in connection with a fight on April 4 involving science teacher and wrestling coach Mark Black that was caught on a cellphone video. Black has since been put on paid leave pending an investigation.
A 16-year-old black male has also been named as a suspect in connection with the fight, but authorities did not release his name.
KNX 1070’s Brian Ping reports Black claims he was acting in self-defense when the students grew violent after Black discovered drugs on them.
School board member Oscar de la Torre, one of Black’s former students, said he feels the teacher most likely acted within his rights.
“He could’ve hurt the student badly if he wanted to, but he didn’t,” de la Torre said. “In the video, what we see is that he’s restraining the student. He even puts himself in a position where the student can punch him in the head.”
As of Tuesday, more than 6,600 people had signed an online petition calling on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District to reinstate Black, who has been teaching for more than 30 years.