Samohi Teacher Reinstated After Scuffle with Student

Mark Black, who is also the school's wrestling coach, has been on leave since the April 4 confrontation that led to the arrests of two students.

Santa Monica High School. Patch file photo.
Santa Monica High School. Patch file photo.

Originally posted at 1:03 p.m. April  Edited with new details.

A Santa Monica High School science teacher who was placed on leave after being caught on video fighting with a student he had confronted about drugs in class will be back at work Monday, the Santa Monica- Malibu Unified School District announced today.

Mark Black, who is also the school's wrestling coach, was placed on paid leave after the April 4 confrontation that led to the arrests of two students. The move sparked outrage among some parents and students who have been rallying in support of Black.

A Facebook page created to support the teacher has been "liked" by more than 23,700 people.

"Based on what we have learned, it is appropriate to return Mr. Black from paid administrative leave at this time," SMMUSD Superintendent Sandra Lyon said.

District officials said they expect to receive an investigator's report on the fight by the middle of next week.

Lyon noted that since the school has been on spring break for two weeks, Black has not missed any time in the classroom.

"I want to make it very clear that Mark Black was not fired or suspended from his job, he was simply placed on leave with pay during the investigation," Lyon said.

Lyon came under fire for comments she made in the days after the classroom confrontation, with some saying she had jumped to conclusions about Black's actions, which she called "unacceptable." She later apologized and said placing Black on leave was standard procedure.

Members of the district's board echoed that sentiment today, saying that placing Black on leave was not a determination he had done anything wrong.

"Mr. Black is a valued coach and educator and we owed him due process protections while the independent investigation was conducted," board Vice President Ralph Mechur said. "We have honored that obligation."

Two students were arrested in the aftermath of the fight, which was caught on cell phone video.

Blair Moore, 18, was charged with two counts of threatening a public school official, possession of a box cutter on school grounds, possession of marijuana on school grounds and force or violence against a school employee, all misdemeanors. He pleaded not guilty and is free on his own recognizance. He is due back in court Tuesday.

A 16-year-old student was also arrested, but his name was not released due to his age.

Black can be seen on cellphone video grappling with a student he had apparently confronted about having marijuana.

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.

District officials said they plan to undertake a pair of policy reviews in response to the fight and the response to it. A committee of school and district officials will review policies and procedures for dealing with "non- compliant" students.

Meanwhile, Santa Monica High School principal Eva Mayoral will convent a panel including administrators, parents, students and employers to "discuss the issues and assertions that emerged as a result of this incident,"

"It is imperative that this committee addresses these issues thoughtfully, collaboratively and quickly so that we can take some positive steps immediately and factor their suggestions into the next school year at Samohi," Mayoral said. "We must engage in a constructive, productive dialogue that will move us forward as a united school community, ensure greater campus safety and assist in maintaining the positive, supportive school culture we so value at Samohi."

--City News Service

Tom Jackson April 21, 2014 at 07:34 PM
Mimi, I agree there are lot of bad teachers out there especially if they prescribe to your " what teachers are trained to do. Being a teacher for 10 years with the LA city school district I don't recall any training provided teachers to deal with unruly students dope selling students. I taught a aircraft mechanics school class and had only two occasions that I had to use physical force to remove unruly students from my class room or break up a student fight. I do recall giving out a great many swats . Unfortunately there is no corporal punishment any longer and look what we deal with now in our schools. I gave teaching up because 9th bleeding hearts like you that think it's OK to allow a student to attack a teacher.
forty9er_angel@yahoo.com April 21, 2014 at 10:47 PM
Couldn't have said it better myself Tom I think mimi is by herself in her veiws well at least according to the comments posted.
mimi April 22, 2014 at 04:44 AM
What century are you living in? You actually want to bring back corporal punishment and are proud of violence against your former students. Yikes!!! There are many who share my beliefs, but choose not to post comments because it's casting pearls before swine. Oink oink to all of you Santa Monica Piggies.
forty9er_angel@yahoo.com April 22, 2014 at 10:41 AM
Spare the rod spoil the child. Train up a child on the way that they should grow. Principals my mother stood by. Single raising 4 children after my father died. Principles my siblings and myself stand by.
Tom Jackson April 22, 2014 at 11:10 AM
Better yet Mimi let's not have any punishment for these out of control single parent children.Better yet let's ditch the prisons and these idiots can move in with you and live in your neighborhood. Any bets on whether these hoodlums have a live in Dad. I doubt it. When I was a kid there was an old saying wait until your dad gets home. Get out of line and have your ass handed to you. Don't regret one minute of the spankings and certainly am better for it. I have raised 8 children all of which were and still are fine students. 2 are Marines serving our country so ding dings like you have a place to live free and spew your B.S. One is a veterinarian the rest are in school, and yes I whip their ass' s when they step one foot out of line. Unfortunately these two hoodlums arrested will be worse off hanging out in prison being someone's girlfriend. Of course according to you that's better then the corporal punishment and having them educated before that. I say bring back corporal punishment now. The ones that don't follow the rules can stay home with you watch TV and collect welfare checks, while selling drugs out your back door. PERFECT!!!!!!


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