UPDATE: Teacher Marson Riley’s GoFundMe page has now topped $145,000 and continues to climb.
Maywood Academy High School music teacher Marston Riley didn’t like the way one of his students was talking to him in class, so he decked the disrespectful troublemaker in the face, repeatedly.
District officials won’t tell the media how they handled the situation, or whether Riley is suspended or faces termination, KCBS reports.
But one thing is for certain: Riley is now sitting on nearly $100,000, thanks to a colleague who started a GoFundMe page to cover his legal expenses from the attack.
“This is Marston Riley and I’m letting you know this GoFundMe page is legit,” Riley said in his first public comments since his release from jail on child abuse charges Saturday. “I want to thank Cecilla Diaz Jimenez for setting it up for me, and I want to thank you for supporting me.”
Students told KTLA the altercation started when Riley asked the student to leave class for a uniform violation and the teen refused. The student taunted Riley, who is black, with profanity and racial slurs. The 14-year-old freshman threw a basketball at the teacher and repeatedly gestured like he intended to attack him.
Riley retrieved his phone and appeared to call for backup, then snapped on the student with a quick and sudden blow to the head. The teen squared up with his 64-year-old teacher, throwing several punches before Riley wrapped him up and blasted several more shots to the boy’s head as a female staffer attempted to intervene. The teen broke free and dashed across the classroom, with Riley following close behind. The teacher appeared to land another punch that knocked them both to the ground.
When they got up, a school officer restrained the student. The teen was rushed to the hospital with “moderate injuries” and released, while Riley was arrested by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies for suspicion of child abuse.
He posted a $50,000 bail the next day, the Los Angeles Times reports.
KTLA’s Chris Wolfe contends “every student” he spoke with at the school is siding with Riley in the ordeal.
“Everything was planned out,” said a student, whose identity was obscured by the news site. “There were students there who were already taking out their phones to record the incident. I don’t think it’s completely fair that they’re just putting the blame all on (Riley), when I personally know that he’s a good guy.”
Several students said their taunting classmate simply pushed Riley too far.
“He was a really nice teacher,” another student said. “I always respected him. He always had a really good relationship with every student.”
Los Angeles Unified School District officials said they were “extremely disturbed” by the video in a prepared statement, but refused to discuss details.
“We take this matter very seriously and do not condone violence or intolerance of any kind,” the statement read. “Los Angeles Unified is cooperating with law enforcement investigating this incident.”
Many folks online were more than willing to condone the teacher’s actions.
Cecilia Diaz Jimenez, a former Maywood Academy employee until last summer, wrote that she set up the GoFundMe page to “pay any fines, fees and lawyers” involved in defending Riley because “he is a great person and a great teacher.”
“We all may have mixed feelings about what happened. But please do know that this is not the first time that Mr. Riley is attacked; physically or verbally,” she wrote, adding that Riley will “have the ultimate decision on how these funds are used and or withdraw.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Go Fund Me account was well beyond its initial $50,000 goal with $99,581, through a total of nearly 4,000 donations.
Students returned to class Monday to some carrying signs in support of Riley, as well as extra security and crisis counselors.
Angry parents, meanwhile, have also voiced their concerns with Riley’s behavior outside of the school, NBC Los Angeles reports.
“Just the fact that he’s hitting a child,” one mother said, “it’s not right.”