Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By David Ganezer

Samohi Wrestling Coach Thrown to the Lyons - April 5 News Update


March 31, 2014

Nobody wants to touch this one, do they?

In case you left town the last 2 days, SamoHi's wrestling couch Mark Black (Yeah, the same 60 year old dude who was involved in the whole wrestling dummy thing 2 years back), was trying to confiscate a bag of weed from an 18 year old, male student. The student refused.

The story from here varies, but there's agreement that the kid put the weed back into his backpack, and the two tussled in the classroom, while another student filmed the whole thing on an iPhone. You can see the tussle, though not what led up to it, by googling it, it's all over the internet.

One version of the story has 3 of the boy's friends jumping the teacher, but I'm unsure at this writing if that's true. What is known is that Santa Monica Unified School District Superintendent Sandra Lyon, couldn't apologize to what is too often described as "the community," fast enough. SMMUSD put Black on leave and, in a piece of apologia that did not tell you what happened but apologized just for being well, Sandra Lyon, she wrote:

Dear 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 the 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.

Sandra Lyon


What deeply disturbs me is how an incident that is under investigation, could still result so quickly in a teachers suspension and "working with the students family to offer the support they may need." How about just kicking the kid out of school for having a bag of weed and fighting with a teacher? When I was a boy, I was sent home for less. Much less.

A Facebook page in support of Black has already garnered more than 900 "likes."

"Show some support for coach Black. Anyone who knows coach Black knows he's a honorable man, and dedicated to his students," says the "about" section of the page known as We Support Coach Black at Samohi, created at around 11 p.m. Friday.

It's odd that an altercation filmed and all over the internet and the evening news is so poorly understood. It's also odd to me that Marijuana has become a sacrament, to the point where it's a students right to carry sacks of it into high school classrooms. But one things for sure: An apology can wait until there is clearly something to apologize for, and Lyon should, well, apologize for apologizing so quickly. Got that?


Reader Comments

ryanmpayne writes:

So a boy caught with a controlled substance in a classroom physically attacked a teacher and then his friend posted film online of the teacher defending himself? To Superintendent Lyons: prioritize what you want to lionize... (1) the rights of students to have drugs on campus? (2) the rights of students to defend their possession of drugs on campus against administrators? (3) the rights of teachers to enforce school rules as well as state and federal laws?


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