Arrests follow videotaped fight between student, teacher

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Police arrested two Santa Monica High School students over a video-recorded classroom fight between a teacher and a pupil that sparked condemnation from a district official and a backlash from parents.

Officers on Friday arrested an 18-year-old man on suspicion of threatening a school official, battery against a school employee, marijuana possession and possessing a weapon — a box cutter — on campus, Sgt. Jay Moroso said Monday.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of battery against a school employee.

“Both of them were arrested in connection with the assault” involving the teacher, Moroso said.

Names and details of the alleged crimes weren’t released. However, the Los Angeles County sheriff’s website indicated that Blair Moore, 18, was arrested Friday on suspicion of threatening a school employee and remained jailed Monday.

Cellphone video making the Internet rounds showed science teacher Mark Black grappling with a student in class Friday. No punches are thrown, but Black, who’s also a wrestling coach, grappled with the student, grabbing him around the legs as the two crashed into desks. The two went down, and Black eventually wrapped his arms around the student’s legs, pinning him on the floor.

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board member Oscar de la Torre said Saturday that the incident arose from a conflict over drug use.

Moroso said he couldn’t confirm some reports that Black had confronted the student because he had brought marijuana to school, but detectives continued to investigate.

“There’s a whole classroom there that needs to be interviewed,” he said.

Superintendent Sandra Lyon sent a letter home with students Friday calling events on the videos “utterly alarming” and the “physical restraint” used by Black “unacceptable.”

The superintendent placed the teacher on leave and pledged support to the student’s family.

That sparked a backlash from parents and others who praised Black for intervening and criticized Lyon for making comments before knowing all the facts.

Supporters set up an online petition to challenge Black’s suspension, and a Facebook support page has received more than 11,500 “likes.”

Lyon apologized for her comments over the weekend in a statement that said her remarks had caused “great anger” and concern that they “reflected a pre-judgment of the teacher’s conduct prior to completion of an investigation.”

Lyon said she is “committed to a thorough and independent investigation of what transpired … that fully respects the rights of all involved, including teachers and students.”

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