A high-school freshman in New Jersey is now facing a criminal charge after pouncing on his 62-year-old teacher who confiscated the student’s cell phone during class.
The violent attack was recorded on another cell phone, and has been posted on YouTube.
The 9th-grader at John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson, New Jersey, was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree aggravated assault, and has also been suspended from school.
Neither the student nor the instructor have been named publicly by authorities.
The scuffle originally took place about 1 p.m. Tuesday during a physics class.
According to the Paterson Press, “The 23-second video shows the 16-year-old with his arms wrapped around the teacher, knocking him into an empty desk. The student then wrestles the teacher across the front of the classroom before slamming him to the floor. The teen then reaches down and wrests something from the teacher before breaking away when someone in the classroom yelled: ‘Security.'”
“We took a statement from the teacher today,” police Capt. Heriberto Rodriguez told the paper. “After that, we went out and found the juvenile and arrested him.”
David Cozart, principal of operations at JFK, said the teacher apparently confiscated the phone – which belonged to the assailant – from another student.
Cozart said students are allowed to use cell phones in class for academic purposes, but staff may take the devices and return them later if the devices are being used for other purposes.
The teacher who was tackled has reportedly worked in the district since 2003.
“I’m disappointed I didn’t see any other kids in the classroom help [the teacher] out,” Peter Tirri, president of the local teachers union, told the Press. “Maybe they were afraid. I don’t know.”
“Let me say that this is a very upsetting incident and certainly one that we take seriously as the safety of our students and staff is our top priority,” said Terry Corallo, district spokeswoman.
She said the student will receive home instruction while he’s on suspension, and a disciplinary hearing will determine “an appropriate, educational placement” for the rest of the year.
“What strikes me is that the teacher never even defended himself,” Lee McNulty, a retired JFK teacher who has been vocal about recent violence in the high school, told the Press. “That just shows how much teachers are afraid of losing their job.”
“It’s troubling that in our society today students think that inside a school they can put their hands on each other and teachers as well,” added Jonathan Hodges, a veteran member of the school board. “I went online trying to find this video and I found numerous videos of teachers being attacked by their students.”