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Student faces charges in fight with educator

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Riverdale Police Chief Samuel Patterson said students should be discouraged from challenging the authority of teachers and school administrators, after the arrest of a 16-year-old, male, Riverdale High School student who allegedly cursed at, threw punches at, and bit his physical-education teacher on Tuesday.

Patterson said the youth cursed at the teacher after the educator asked him why he was late to gym class on Tuesday afternoon. When the teacher asked the student to take his seat, the pupil then pushed, swung at, and hit the educator, according to Patterson.

As a result, the student was arrested by Riverdale's School Resource Officer (SRO), and charged with battery and disorderly conduct, Patterson said.

"Any time there is a challenge to an authority figure, it reduces the ability of the authority figure to maintain the peace," Patterson said. "These types of incidents are few and far between, but students will act out if they think there won't be any punishments. Well, the other children will see that he's being punished. He's been arrested and he's been charged with battery and disorderly conduct.

"I think the other children are going to say 'I don't want that happening to me,'" the police chief added.

After the school's SRO investigated the fight, the student was taken by Riverdale police to the Clayton County Juvenile Detention Center, Patterson said. "I think he was released into the custody of his parents," Patterson said.

Clayton County Schools Spokesman Charles White said by telephone that the student was suspended for 10 days, pending a student tribunal hearing.

In a written statement, White said that after the student pushed and swung at his teacher, striking the educator, "the teacher responded in kind." White and Patterson also said the teacher then restrained the student, but the pupil was able to attack the educator once more -- this time with his mouth.

"The two wound up on the floor where the student reportedly bit the teacher's right hand," White said.

Patterson said the teacher was not arrested, and is not facing any charges because police determined his actions were in self-defense. The teacher has been placed on administrative leave with pay, though, while Clayton County Public Schools officials conduct an internal investigation, according to White.