Teacher on Leave for Tackling Alleged Drug Dealer Finds Support
Mark Black was captured on cell phone video tackling an unnamed teenager after a confrontation over an alleged drug deal.
A science teacher and wrestling coach at Santa Monica High School tackled and pinned down a teenager in his classroom last week. Despite initial condemnation from the school superintendent, the student body is standing behind their teacher in the aftermath.
The incident between Mark Black and the unnamed teenager went viral after a student recorded it on his cell phone. Black reportedly called the teenager out for selling drugs in his classroom, which resulted in the student allegedly punching him in the face. Black wrestled him to the ground and wrapped his arms around the teenager’s legs as a means of restraint.
Sandra Lyon, superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu school district, said that the teacher’s actions were “unacceptable” and placed him on leave pending an investigation. She also asked the Santa Monica Police Department to investigate possible criminal charges.
But many of the students and parents at Santa Monica High said Black was simply trying to stop illegal activity in his classroom and was ultimately forced to defend himself physically. A Change.org petition to reinstate him has already collected more than 3,000 signatures, while a Facebook support page has generated over 11,500 likes. “He was trying to be a teacher and help, and I don’t think it was his fault,” said student Kylan Townsend to Good Morning America.
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board member Oscar de la Torre confirmed over the weekend that the incident was due to a conflict over drug use. Two students were also arrested in connection with the incident; an 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of threatening a school official, battery against a school employee, marijuana possession, and possessing a weapon, while a 16-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of battery against a school employee. It is still unclear which of the teenagers allegedly attacked Black.
Lyon has also apologized for her comments regarding Black’s actions, acknowledging they caused “great anger” and "reflected a pre-judgment of the teacher's conduct prior to completion of an investigation."
Check out a local news report about the incident: