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School fight sends a teacher home

A Pulaski County Special School District teacher has been put on administrative leave after a parent claims he used excessive force on a student, and it's all caught on tape.
A Pulaski County Special School District teacher put on administrative leave after a parent claims he used excessive force on a student and it's all caught on tape. The incident happened after the teacher stepped in to break up a fight.

It happened the same week nearly 700 teachers in the district walked out in protest of money and contract issues. Some schools reported problems with students getting out of hand. At Fuller Middle School 1 in 3 students stayed home.  Just two days before the walkout, at the same school, a major fight caused a teacher to be sent home.

FOX16 obtained exclusive video of an intense fight at Fuller Middle School less than a week ago. In the video, you see teacher Tom Griffin inside of his classroom. Outside the door there is a heated commotion.

"I want some justice. That's what I want,” said parent Tiffany Howard.  She says her daughter, seen in the video with a pink book bag, first alerted the teacher there was a problem during class.  "[She told him] that the girl was picking with her and the teacher told her to go sit down. She did what the teacher told her to do and sat down. Then the bell rang,” Howard explained.

That's when the girls settled their dispute among themselves. An adult called on Mr. Griffin to help.  "Mr. Griffin, call security. Mr. Griffin!" an adult voice yells.

He then arrived on the scene, but Howard has a problem with how the teacher broke up the fight.
In the video, you see Mr. Griffin and another adult pull the students apart. Then, Howard's daughter comes back for more.  That’s when the teacher responded.
 
"He picks my daughter up and he throws her," Howard claims.

It sent the teenage spectators into a frenzy.  "You got knocked…out. I got it on video!" a student yells.

We contacted the school district to find out whether the teacher did anything wrong.  Assistant Superintendent Deborah Coley issued a statement saying “the teacher in question” was put on leave for “allegations of pushing a student.” A district spokesman says the teacher is expected to return to the class on Monday.

"Leave it to me, he wont because he is not going to put his hands on anyone else's child, not even mine….I wouldn't want anyone else’s children to be in that class too. For what reason, so he can do it again?" Howard asks.

Her daughter was suspended for two days, which she says is a first. Howard says she understands the actions her daughter took when getting into a fight, but she says she wonders if the district understands what the teacher did.

A district spokesperson says school officials also looked at the video and feel it’s appropriate for the teacher to return to school and that there's no cause for parents to fear for their students safety.

The fight happened last Tuesday, just two days before the teacher walk-out in the district. Tom Griffin is a Social Studies teacher at Fuller. Although the district feels Griffin did what he had to do to break up the fight, Howard says after this incident, she no longer wants her daughter in his class.

[Editors note: Comments for this story have been turned off because of name-calling, personal attacks and off-topic remarks. We apologize for the inconvenience.]
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