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Colleagues, Students Defend Teacher Who Punched Teen for Calling Him the N-Word

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Teaching today’s generation comes with its own challenges but being susceptible to verbal or physical abuse by a student is outrageous. Marston Riley, who is Black, is said to be a dedicated and beloved music teacher. But he reached his boiling point on Nov. 1 when a student called him the n-word, and threw a basketball at him during class.


According to students who witnessed the fight, the altercation began when Riley, age 64, advised the student that he was in violation of the school’s uniform policy. Riley, repeatedly, told the 14-year-old student to leave his class. The student got in the teacher’s face and continued shooting off a barrage of racist slurs, including the N-word. It was also reported that he threw a basketball at the celebrated teacher.

Apparently the insults and disrespect proved to be too much, Riley punched the student in the face sending him reeling and continued to pummel the teen as other students watch. Eventually, school staff members arrived and separated the two.

The incident was caught on cellphone video.

“It was just back and forth, back and forth, and then the teacher just decided to throw a punch and that’s when everything happened,” a student said.

The fight resulted in Riley’s arrest. The student was taken to a local hospital and treated for his injuries and released. Riley is facing termination, and a possible jail time.

The Los Angeles Unified School District
said in a statement:

“We take this matter very seriously and do not condone violence or intolerance of any kind. Los Angeles Unified is cooperating with law enforcement in investigating this incident.”

Ironically, many students, parents and colleagues came to the teacher’s defense as stories about the incident began to circulate.

Cecilia Diaz Jimenez, who works in the school district, and four years ago worked at the high school where the fight happened, created a GoFundMe campaign named “For Mr. Riley/Teachers Deserve Respect.” As of Monday afternoon, it had raised just over $37,000.

“Be mindful that the school district is looking at dismissing him and I would not doubt if the student’s parents are looking into pressing criminal charges,” Jimenez wrote. “I am sure Mr. Riley will need money to pay any fines, fees and lawyers. For those who continue to donate, Thank you!”

Although Riley certainly acted inappropriately, the student had no problems calling a Black man the N-word. What kind of people are raising him He was given a directive to leave the class for being disrespectful but instead he jumped in the face of an educator at least 35 years his senior.

Reader Question: If you were in Riley’s situation, what would you have done

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