April 7, 2014— -- People are lining up to defend a teacher at a California high school who was placed on leave after being accused of fighting a student, with video of the fight uploaded online and viewed more than a million times.
Mark Black, who is also the wrestling coach at Santa Monica High School, pinned the student to the ground in the fight.
Video appears to show Black using wrestling moves to subdue the student. That video was captured on a student’s phone and later uploaded to the website World Star Hip Hop, where it has been viewed more than a million times.
Students who witnessed the fight are supporting Black, saying the teacher was trying to confiscate something drug-related from the student.
While the teacher has been put on leave, students and parents have started a campaign to save his job, getting thousands to show support on Facebook and sign a petition.
Kylan Townsend, a student at the school, blames the student -- not Black.
“He was trying to be a teacher and help, and I don’t think it was his fault,” Townsend said.
Sandra Lyon, the superintendent at Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, wrote an email to parents calling the teacher’s actions “utterly alarming.” She later released another statement, writing, “Teachers are at times confronted with difficult, even threatening, situations, and they must make judgment calls to protect safety.”
No decision on potential punishments will be made until an independent investigation is complete.
Black did not respond to a request for comment.