Santa Monica High School Fight: 2 Students Arrested, Teacher on Leave

Tuesday, 08 Apr 2014 03:06 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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A longtime Santa Monica High School teacher and wrestling coach has been placed on leave after a fight with a student allegedly turned physical last week, and two students have been arrested.

Witnesses told KCBS-TV that a student was openly holding a bag of marijuana in class and a fight ensued after Mark Black, a science teacher who is also coach of the school's wrestling team, confronted the students and tried to confiscate it.

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A cell phone video that captured the incident showed Black swatting at a student with his arms and crashing into desks and the classroom wall as he tried to execute a takedown. 

On Monday, Santa Monica police arrested an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old in connection with the classroom scuffle and said they would seek battery charges against both students, according to the Los Angeles Times. The 18-year-old, identified as Blair Moore, also faces the charges of threatening a school official and possession of marijuana on school grounds.

Black will remain on leave pending an investigation, Sandra Lyon, the superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, said in a statement.

Lyon called Black's use of force "unacceptable" and offered her support to the students' families.

But many parents sent letters to Lyon and school board members supporting Black. The well-liked teacher's supporters started a Facebook page, "We Support Black of Samohi," in wake of the incident, and the page has received more than 16,000 likes over the weekend.

Despite the backlash, Lyon stood by her decision to place Black on administrative leave, calling it "standard procedure."

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