2 Santa Monica High Students Arrested After Brawl With Wrestling Coach
Two students at Santa Monica High School were arrested after video surfaced of a controversial fight with a science teacher in the classroom on Friday.
In the cell phone video, 60-year-old teacher Mark Black, who is also a wrestling coach, is seen grappling with an 18-year-old student, knocking over tables and pinning him down. There were no punches or kicks. The brawl began after Black reportedly accused the student of bringing weed to school, according to NBC Los Angeles. There were some student witnesses who reported that Black was stabbed with a pencil.
Sgt. Jay Moroso told the AP on Monday that the 18-year-old student, who they did not name, was arrested on on suspicion of threatening a school official, battery against a school employee, marijuana possession and possessing a weapon (a box cutter). However, the Santa Monica Daily Press discovered through booking reports that the student is named Blair Moore and he will be arraigned in court on Tuesday.
Another 16-year-old male student was also arrested for battery charges against a school employee.
The media firestorm ensued at the school after Santa Monica-Malibu Superintendent Sandra Lyon wrote in an email to the school community calling the incident "deeply disturbing incident" and that Black's actions were "unacceptable." The well-liked teacher was put on leave and an out-pour of support from the community has led to the launch of a Facebook page called "We Support Coach Black of Samohi." The page already has over 16,000 likes. In addition, a Change.org petition has over 6,200 signatures to reinstate the teacher.
Timothy Conley, a 1995 alum of Santa Monica High School, created the petition. He wrote on the website:
Mark Black, longtime science teacher and wrestling coach at Santa Monica High School, was attacked on the morning of April 4, 2014, by a student in his science classroom. The student was in possession of Marijuana that he was attempting to sell in the classroom. As Mr. Black attempted to confiscate the drug and stop the illegal distribution, he was attacked by the student. In an attempt to protect himself and not injure the student in question, Mr. Black, a wrestling coach with over 30 years experience, placed the student in a restraint hold to stop the student from further attacking him. This was in an effort to get the situation under control until the proper authorities could be contacted.
Lyon later apologized for her quick judgment on the situation and putting Black on leave. According to the L.A. Times:
"There is concern that my statement reflected a pre-judgment of the teacher’s conduct prior to completion of an investigation,” she said. “There is also concern about my failure to address the conduct of one or more students who were involved in the incident. In retrospect, I understand how my statement has created these concerns. I apologize …"