A jaw-dropping video was captured inside a California classroom of a teacher who lost his cool with a student. The educator is seen punching the student in the face, pummeling and clobbering the teen repeatedly. But, more shocking than the encounter is the fact that the teacher has been cleared. Do you think he should have been?
Marston Riley, a 65-year-old music teacher at Maywood Academy High School in Los Angeles, California, became the center of controversy when a video emerged of him engaging in a fistfight with a 14-year-old student. The brawl started after Riley reprimanded the student for failing to wear his required school uniform to class, Inside Edition reported. When the teen began to talk back, things got physical.
The student is heard hurling racial slurs and repeatedly swearing at the teacher right before slamming a basketball at the educator. Riley initially walks away, but the altercation continues to escalate until the educator is seen throwing a punch at the kid’s face, which lands with a loud smack. The teacher continues to clobber the ninth-grader over and over, striking him with his cellphone.
According to students who witnessed the incident, Riley asked the student to leave the room because he was not wearing his uniform. The teen refused and insulted the teacher. Riley then took out his phone, reportedly planning to call for backup, as the student continued to provoke him. The teacher held his composure but then punched the boy in the face, swiftly and without warning, as the recording shows.
The ensuing brawl lasted about 30 seconds as the pair clambered across the room with Riley repeatedly delivering blows and onlooking students in the classroom shrieking in horror and disbelief. The boy was only able to deliver about one punch. According to an initial report from KTLA, Riley continued to aggressively pursue the student even after other school officials responded to break up the fight.
The student was hospitalized but later released. Marston Riley was arrested and taken into custody on suspicion of child abuse and causing great bodily injury to a child. He was initially charged with a misdemeanor count of corporal injury to a child. He pleaded not guilty as many parents and students rallied around him, saying the student pushed him to his breaking point.
To the shock of some and creating division throughout the community, the teacher received incredible support after the footage surfaced. A GoFundMe campaign was even initiated, receiving $191,000 and counting to help cover the beloved teacher’s legal expenses and bail. “I want to thank everyone who prayed for us, who sent us messages, who supported us on the GoFundMe page,” Riley said.
“When that camera started that was the second time he had come into the classroom,” Riley said, explaining his side of the story. “I told him you need to leave. I told him one more time you need to leave, I swung at him, I didn’t want to hurt him. He had been calling me obscenities and the ‘N’ word way before the camera had started. At one point of the altercation, he tried to grab my legs to take me down.”
Riley completed a 10-week anger management course and was forced into early retirement, according to the district attorney, but that’s were his consequences ended. Authorities have announced that the former educator is in the clear and charges have been dismissed. The D.A.’s office dropped the charge, citing the circumstances surrounding the incident, the teacher’s age, that he has no criminal record, and his good behavior after the clash, KTLA reported.
Some have pointed out on social media that Marston Riley only did what the boy’s parents should have done, giving him a whooping to straighten him up. Others are quick to retort, saying a parent who struck their disrespectful teen in such a way would be charged with abuse and not have their case so easily dismissed.
Yes, the teen’s behavior was very, very wrong and should be corrected, but when you can’t even give a kid a spanking without condemnation and possible legal consequences, should a teacher be permitted to punch them in the face? What’s more, did this do anything to help promote respect for authority?
While everyone has a breaking point and we can all understand Riley’s frustration, we have to wonder what this taught the child. The purpose of discipline, after all, is to provide a lesson, not just a punishment. Was this obviously troubled teen just shown that you can snap, strike someone repeatedly, and get away with it? I guess only time will tell.
Sadly, there is no winning in this incident. Ruining the respected educator’s life could embolden other kids to push the limits, but completely dismissing all charges may teach the student involved and all those watching that it’s okay to react to an altercation with physical violence. After all, a well-loved teacher did it, so why can’t they? However, there is one thing we should all be able to agree on: The classroom is no place for a fist-fight.