Santa Monica, California – A Santa Monica High School teacher and wrestling coach caught on cell phone videos fighting with a student today was placed on leave pending an investigation into the incident, the school district superintendent announced.
According to a letter sent to parents by Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Sandra Lyon, no one was injured in the classroom confrontation between teacher Mark Black and a student whose name has not been released.
But Lyon said she was alarmed by what she saw of the videos capturing the fight, which caused Santa Monica police to come to the school.
"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," she wrote in the letter.
Based on what she has seen, the "physical restraint" used by the teacher was "unacceptable," Lyon wrote.
A Santa Monica police spokesman declined to comment on the incident and instead referred questions to the school district.
"We have been in contact with the student's family, and we will work with them to offer the support that they may need," Lyon wrote. "I am grateful that there is no reported serious physical harm to students or teachers, but that neither dismisses the severity of this situation nor my commitment to gather all the facts and make sure the proper actions are taken."
"Show some support for coach Black. Anyone who knows coach Black knows he's a honorable man, and dedicated to his students," says the "about" section of the page known as We Support Coach Black at Samohi, created at around 11 p.m. Friday.
Writes another former student: "We need to picket at the smmusd office to show coach black has all of his old students backing him up I say all next week."
Fans of the page are saying Black did the right thing in restraining the student and are criticizing Santa Monica-Malibu Unified Superintendent Sandra Lyon for jumping to conclusions.
"So wait, Coach Black is being punished for keeping the other students safe? Ridiculous," says one post.
--City News Service contributed to this report
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