California coach uses wrestling expertise to restrain alleged drug-dealing student

Ben Rohrbach

Santa Monica (Calif.) High wrestling coach Mark Black held an unexpected grappling match last week.

Students in Black's science classroom told Southern California's KTLA-TV that an unidentified classmate struck Black in the face when the Santa Monica teacher confronted him about selling marijuana in class. Cell phone camera footage of the incident shows the teacher/coach using his wrestling experise to pin the student to the floor during a confrontation that sent chairs and desks careening all over the room.

As a result, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District officials suspended Black pending an investigation. "I can tell you that what I witnessed on one of those videos is utterly alarming," superintendent Sandra Lyon told KTLA-TV, calling the teacher's physical restraint "unacceptable."

The Los Angeles-area television station did an investigation of its own, however, and the result appears to clear Black of any significant wrongdoing. After all, teachers are reportedly permitted to physically protect themselves and others in such a situation. Santa Monica student Daniella Melamed told KCAL-TV that she saw the student "had a pencil and was going after the teacher with it."

As another student told KTLA-TV"What is a teacher supposed to do? Sit there and just let a student beat him up? He was trying to restrain him. He didn't hit him. He just wrestled him. He was trying to get him to the ground and said, 'You're not going anywhere.'"

Two students were arrested following the altercation, and more than 10,000 people have pledged their support for Black on a Facebook page established in his honor the same day news broke on April 4. Similarly, a petition asking for Black's reinstatement has almost 4,000 signatures.

Black has won multiple national titles at the Veterans Freestyle National Championships. He has also helped Santa Monica's Maddy Tung become one of the nation's premier junior girls' wrestlers.

The lesson here, as always kids, don't deal drugs, especially in the wrestling coach's classroom.

(h/t New York Daily News)