Two Santa Monica High School students were arrested in connection with a classroom brawl with a teacher that was caught on cellphone video and triggered a backlash from parents and teachers, police said today.
Since both are students, police declined to release their names, although one is 18 years old and was booked on suspicion of threatening a school official, battery against a school employee, being in possession of a weapon -- a box cutter -- and possession of marijuana, according to Santa Monica police Sgt. Jay Moroso.
Although police would not release his name, the Santa Monica Daily Press -- citing Santa Monica police booking records -- reported that 18-year-old Blair Moore was arrested Friday morning after police responded to a fight at the school. Sheriff's booking records show that Moore remains jailed on $20,000 bail and is due to appear at the Airport Branch Courthouse tomorrow.
The second student, age 16, is accused of battery against a school employee.
The teacher, identified as Mark Black, who is also the school's wrestling coach, was caught on video scuffling with a student who was allegedly caught with marijuana in a classroom.
No punches were thrown, but Black can eventually be seen on the video with his arms locked around the student's legs, on the classroom floor. Some witness reports indicated the teacher had been stabbed with a pencil.
Black was placed on leave. Sandra Lyon, superintendent of the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District, sent a letter home with students Friday saying "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."
Based on what she had seen, the "physical restraint" used by Black was "unacceptable," Lyon wrote.
Over the weekend, however, Lyon found herself on the defensive as support for Black grew. A Facebook page titled "We Support Coach Black of Samohi" had more than 11,000 "likes" as of this afternoon. Some people left comments on the page criticizing Lyon for her comments condemning Black's actions before knowing all the facts.
Lyon issued a statement over the weekend apologizing for her comments, saying they had been misinterpreted as a pre-judgment of the teacher's actions before a full investigation was conducted.
"Clearly, this video is only a piece of this story and many people only have seen or heard a part of the story," she wrote in a memo to the school board obtained by the Los Angeles Times. "I can assure that any future action will be based on the full investigation."
--City News Service