SAMOHI — A pair of Santa Monica High School students have been arrested following a fight with a teacher on Friday.

An 18-year-old male was arrested for alleged possession of pot and a box cutter, according to the Santa Monica Police Department. Police are seeking charges for possession of a weapon on campus, possession of marijuana on school grounds, battery against a school employee, and threatening a school official.

He is due in court Tuesday.

Though he is an adult, police would not identify the 18-year-old because he is a student. According to SMPD calls for service reports, police responded to a battery call in the 600 block of Pico Boulevard, where Samohi is located, at 9:19 a.m. on Friday. According to SMPD booking reports, an 18-year-old named Blair Moore was arrested as a result of the incident.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff booking information, Moore will be arraigned on Tuesday.

A 16-year-old male was also arrested in the case. SMPD is seeking battery charges against him as well.

In a cellphone video taken by another student, science teacher Mark Black is seen wrestling with a student. Black brings the student to the ground and holds him there. The video was posted to YouTube and featured by many television news outlets.

The fight reportedly started after the student brought marijuana to class.

Black, who is also a wrestling coach, was placed on leave shortly after the incident.

A “We Support Coach Black of Samohi” Facebook page has been liked more than 12,000 times as of press time.

A petition to reinstate Black posted on Change.org has more than 5,000 signatures.

“The district did not rush to judgment in this case, but others certainly have based on only YouTube postings that show a small portion of what actually happened at the school,” Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Sandra Lyon said on Monday.

Placing an employee on paid administrative leave after an incident is standard procedure, she said.

“In no way was our action to place the teacher on paid leave a determination of wrongful conduct or a decision to suspend or discipline him,” she said. “The teacher involved is a respected coach and educator. We owe him due process protections as we further investigate this incident.”

The district hopes to conclude its independent investigation during spring break, which ends April 20.

“We urge our community and those outside of the district to let the investigative process work and reserve judgment until all of the facts are in,” Lyon said. “Until then, we will continue to work with local law enforcement while we respect the due process and privacy rights of everyone involved.”

Lyon released an initial statement calling the fight “utterly alarming” and “deeply disturbing.”

She later apologized for the statement, noting that some interpreted it as a “pre-judgement of the teacher’s conduct prior to an investigation” and that it failed to address the conduct of students involved.

“I apologize that my comments focused solely on the message that teachers should not physically engage when disciplining or intervening without underscoring that we need to obtain all the details leading up to this situation before we reach conclusions,” Lyon said in the statement to the community on Saturday.

Board of Education member Oscar de la Torre called Black a “fair person” who is “committed to educating young people.”

De la Torre said when he was in high school he tried out for wrestling and went up against Black.

“There isn’t an 18-year-old in this city who’s going to beat him at wrestling,” he said. “I tried out for wrestling and he beat me so bad I decided to play football instead.”

De la Torre is waiting for the dust to clear before passing judgment on the incident.

“We don’t really know what happened yet,” he said. “It looks like coach Black was trying to stop a student from selling drugs. Generally speaking, we don’t want teachers putting hands on anyone unless it’s in self-defense. Does selling weed rise to that level? I don’t know.”

 

dave@smdp.com

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