From Phil Shuman:
Who's right and who's wrong? Hard to tell from what we've seen so far.
The next time I'm arrested I hope to have as many friends and relatives in court trying to get me out as Blair Moore did today. He's the 18-year-old Santa Monica High School student who's now charged with five misdemeanors for last weeks ‘‘viral'' fight video, a confrontation, a scuffle, a fight with a long time teacher and coach named Mark Black, that a student captured on cell phone video and now it's here, there and everywhere for all the world to see.
Moore's mother, father, cousins, and others packed the 9th floor Airport Courthouse courtroom during a brief arraignment when Moore pleaded not guilty. They spoke out after court saying that he's a good kid ‘'not a drug dealer not a gang banger a good kid', who didn't deserve to have spent the last four days in jail while first the District Attorney and then the City Attorney in Santa Monica decided what if anything to charge him with.
The judge did agree to release him ‘'OR"on his own recognizance, noting the close family ties and support. Moore's mother, Brigitte Spears, told me outside court that she is heavily involve with the school, knows Black, didn't want to speculate on what her son was doing ‘‘wrong'' if anything, but that the whole incident was handled incorrectly (One of the charges is possession of a small amount of marijuana). She notes she has an older son who is in college on a scholarship, that Blair was planning on going to the Prom, to graduation, and then on to Santa Monica Junior College, and she says he plans on doing all those things ‘‘once he is vindicated''. As for Black, he's been ‘‘placed on administrative leave'' during the investigation, no one has a bad thing to say about him, but the School District, through ‘‘statements'' issued by the Superintendent, seems to be conducting a master class in how not to handle a scandal, saying one thing, saying another, then in a third statement trying to clarify the first two sounded even more confused. Bottom line this may be sorted out in court, or the whole thing may go away and be handled internally. Fights between teachers and students simply are unacceptable. As for the 16-year-old arrested the same time Moore was, i'm told he was ‘‘cited and released'' and now the County Probation Department,, not the D.A. or City Attorney will decide what if anything to do with him. It's all sad and puts the school, the teacher, and the students in a bad light. Of course, without the now omnipresent cell phone video capturing what happened we probably would've never known about it anyway.
Tuesday morning an 18-year-old Santa Monica High School student is expected in a courtroom for an arraignment on charges related marijuana possession, possession of a weapon (box cutter) and assault. Authorities are not releasing his name. Santa Monica Police tell me that's because he is a high school student even though he is not a minor.
The 18-year-old is one of two teens arrested in connection with an incident Friday in which a student and teacher got into a fistfight. It was recorded on a cell phone and made public. When the Santa Monica Unified School District Superintendent saw it she was outraged and suspended the teacher. Today, she issued an apology for what seemed to be a rush to judgement according to a number of parents. And, support has been growing for the Coach especially since the arrest of the 18-year-old and another student, a 16-year-old, arrested for battery.
In fact, two websites have thousands of people signing on their support. One, an online petition, calls for Coach Black to have his job back. The other is a Facebook page called "We Support Coach Black of Samohi" started by Santa Monica HS grad Sal Medina. He totally supports the coach and believes he will be vindicated.
The 18-year-old was jailed in lieu of $20,000 bail.
Santa Monica's school superintendent has apologized for comments she made about a popular science teacher she placed on leave after cell phone videos showed him fighting with a student in a classroom.
Superintendent Sandra Lyon acknowledged public anger that her statements reflected "pre-judgment" of Santa Monica High School teacher Mark Black before the completion of an investigation, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday (http://lat.ms/1g15ZtO ).
"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," Lyon said in a weekend letter to the community.
On Friday, Lyon said the videos were "utterly alarming" and the teacher's use of physical restraint "unacceptable." The superintendent placed the teacher on leave and pledged support to the student's family.
The videos show Black wrestling with an unidentified male student, crashing into desks and eventually pinning him to the floor.
Lyon's comments angered parents, some of whom defended Black, who's also a wrestling coach, and praised him for intervening.
The superintendent also defended her action.
"Placing the teacher involved in this incident on leave pending completion of a full investigation is a matter of standard policy and practice; it in no way prejudices the outcome of the investigation," Lyon said.
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified board member Oscar de la Torre said Saturday that the incident arose from a conflict over drug use. In letters to Lyon and in television news interviews, parents and students made similar statements, the newspaper said.
Black did not reply to a Times email seeking comment.
A Santa Monica High School teacher has been placed on leave following a fight with a student Friday morning. The school district is giving few details of the incident, but the Superintendent Sandra Lyon has sent the following letter to staff, students and parents:
"Today, a deeply disturbing incident involving a teacher and student occurred in a classroom at Santa Monica High School, resulting in the Santa Monica Police Department being called to the campus. 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. We have been in contact with the student's family, and we will work with them to offer the support that they may need. 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.
Until the investigation is complete, we will not have all the details that led up to this incident; nevertheless, based on what I have viewed, the kind of physical restraint used by the teacher is unacceptable. I have placed the teacher on leave pending the outcome of an independent investigation.
As a parent, I know that we want our children to be safe at school. This is a fundamental expectation that I honor and respect. I am committed to ensure that any disciplinary action taken in this matter is based on facts, the law and all students' right to a safe learning environment."