The reason this topic’s important to me is because I was once a teacher. And while being a high school teacher, I witnessed plenty of student violence. As a matter of fact, it was after breaking up a beatdown of one student by four others that I decided to leave teaching.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to teach or develop young people; or that I didn’t care to be a positive role model and influence in their lives. It was about the disconcerting fact that, as a teacher, I had no protection.
We were heading out for track practice when I noticed four boys stomping on and kicking one kid on the ground. I wasn’t going to allow that to happen, so I charged to break it up. Three kids fled, while one decided to throw a punch at me — which was not a healthy decision for him.
He was eventually detained by the school resource officer (SRO), and I wrote a statement about the incident. What troubled me was that, first, this kid was so disrespectful that he took a swing at me.
Luckily, my training in Army combatives quickly subdued him and he found himself in a front choke hold. Just a little more pressure could have resulted in a snapped neck — and you can imagine the legal battle that would have ensued.
Yet, every day our teachers go into an environment where they face criminal-type assault from young people, and they have little protection. But what’s even more disconcerting is that we have parents who defend their children, even in these very disturbing cases, and a system that doesn’t crack down on their aberrant behavior.
We recently shared stories about students striking teachers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Rome, Georgia.
And now this story. As reported by the New York Post,
A hot-headed teen got a slap on the wrist Friday for slugging a Manhattan principal who told him to turn down his music. Judge Edwina Richardson-Mendelson granted Luis Penzo, 19, youthful offender status and sentenced him to a conditional discharge — as long as he stays out of trouble for three years he’ll dodge prison and a criminal record.
“You made us very proud,” the judge said of the surly teen’s compliance with a family therapy program.
Penzo, who sauntered into Manhattan Supreme Court Friday wearing a white T-shirt and red gym shorts, offered no apology for the October 2016 beatdown of Principal Matthew Tossman. He previously admitted to the attack on Tossman of the Manhattan Early College School for Advertising.
“He grabbed my Beats and was very aggressive, so I lost control,” he confessed, according to court papers. “I hit him two times.”
When the principal asked him to turn down his music, Penzo dropped the headphones on the floor and left the music booming, prosecutors said. Tossman reached for the device and Penzo pounced on him, leaving the educator with two black eyes and a laceration that needed seven stitches.
Penzo at the time attended Murry Bergtraum High School, which is housed in the same building as Tossman’s school.
“You made us very proud”? What kind of delusional idiocy is that coming from this person masquerading as a judge?
This is the problem — we’re not holding these young people accountable for their actions. As a matter of fact, Penzo is now 19, meaning that he committed his criminal assault last year when he was 18.
Penzo’s not a child, but well aware of what he did. And to think that this happened all over a school principal asking a student to turn down loud music! The response should have been a simple, “Yes sir”; instead, he pounced on an adult and assaulted him.
There’s only one punishment in this case, and that’s felony criminal charges — not youthful offender status! Penzo committed felonious assault, and the message sent to him is horrific; that he’s not immediately responsible for his actions.
Now ask yourself this simple question: What if the principal, who is white, had martial arts or combatives training? What if the principal had responded based on his training, and subdued this young man in a physical manner? What if the student had received a broken arm and a concussion in the process?
I think you’re catching my drift; we’d be talking about Al Sharpton and everyone coming down on this principal, regardless of the fact that he was defending himself. This is what has to end in our public schools system: The students have no respect and no fear, while our teachers and principals live in fear of what could happen to them.
Besides the danger of being assaulted by students, teachers could also be assaulted by the legal system. They’re certainly not protected from either.
I applaud teachers who go into these very tumultuous situations and schools every day. They’re special people and deserve our respect and protection.
Why did I only teach high school for a year and volunteer to go to Afghanistan as a civilian/military adviser to the Afghanistan National Army?
Well, at least Afghanistan was a recognized combat zone …
[Learn more about Allen West’s vision for this nation in his book Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom]