Outside firm investigates classroom fight in Champlin

8:43 PM, May 29, 2013   |    comments
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CHAMPLIN, Minn. - A fight between two students in a classroom at Champlain Park High School in early May wound up on YouTube, but it's not that fight that has people demanding answers from the school district.

A second video shows the teacher in the classroom breaking up the fight by tackling both students. Then the teacher restrains one of the fighting students, a 14-year-old freshman.

The video drew the attention of the Council of American and Islamic Relations as the younger student is Muslim. The boy told his family he was bullied into the fight with his classmate because of his race and religion.

"We are really looking for the full picture. What happened? Was excessive force used by this teacher? What led to this fight? There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered," CAIR Executive Director Lori Saroya said Wednesday night.

The outside investigation was agreed to by the school district late Tuesday night.

A district spokesperson said the teachers there adhere to Minnesota State statute when it comes to breaking up fights and using force.

The statute says a teacher may use reasonable force when it is necessary under the circumstances to correct or restrain a student or prevent bodily harm to another.

Julie Blaha represents the teacher's union in the Anoka/Hennepin School District.

"I think we all have to be very careful and realize we didn't get a complete picture of what was going on," Blaha said in respect to the videos uploaded to YouTube of the altercations.

In the second video, where the teacher restrains the student in question, you see the teacher struggle with him and put him in a headlock hold.

The teacher then yells to the other student in the fight, "Are you done?" The other student can be heard answering yes.

The teacher then says to the student he is restraining "Are you done?" and that student also responded yes.

After that he stops restraining the 14-year-old, but then that student appears to lunge at the teacher so he restrains again.

So was that teacher in line with policy to restrain by reasonable force when bodily harm is possible?

"It's really difficult to really understand what was happening before and after and what do you already know about the students and what else is just in the environment?" Blaha pointed out.

The outside investigation is already underway.

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