ST. PAUL, Minn. – The St. Paul school district, which has been widely criticized for a soft student disciplinary code and a rash of student violence, is blaming a teacher for the serious injuries he suffered when he was attacked and choked by a student.

sppsIn December, Central High School science teacher John Ekblad was attacked by 16-year-old student Fon’Tae O’Bannon while he was attempting to break up a fight.

O’Bannon claims he was the first one trying to break up the fight, which was between his younger brother and another student, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He reportedly told a judge that Ekblad grabbed him from behind while he was trying to intervene in the skirmish.

Even if that’s true, O’Bannon chose to react violently toward the teacher. He was subsequently convicted of third degree felony assault.

“Witnesses told police the student and teacher crashed into a trophy case, and then O’Bannon choked Ekblad and slammed him onto a table,” the Pioneer Press reported.

“Ekblad was taken to a hospital. Two weeks later, he said he still was suffering from constant headaches and nausea, short-term memory loss and numbness on one side of his body.”

Ekblad filed a lawsuit against the school district in March, claiming officials “failed to protect him despite knowing that the school and the student who attacked him were dangerous,” the newspaper reported.

In a legal document responding to the lawsuit, the school district placed the blame directly on the teacher who was trying to restore order and protect students from harm.

The district claims Ekblad’s injuries “were due to, caused by and solely the result of (Ekblad’s) own carelessness, negligence, fault and other unlawful conduct.”

“Among other defenses, the district suggested that even if it was guilty of negligence, Ekblad would not have gotten hurt had he not chosen to get involved in the fight,” the Pioneer Press reported.

Is the district in effect telling its teachers that they should stand by and allow students to harm each other without trying to intervene?

Is it telling students that it’s acceptable to attack and injure teachers who try to break up student fights?

The St. Paul district has been the frequent target of teachers and other critics over its “white privilege” approach to student discipline, which is focused on avoiding out-of-school suspensions for black students, reportedly even some who engage in violent behavior.

Critics of the lack of student discipline say many of the district’s schools and classrooms are in a state of chaos, because too many kids realize there will be no serious consequences for their actions.

There have numerous reports of teachers being assaulted by students over the past few years. At one point, following the Ekblad incident, the St. Paul Federation of Teachers threatened to strike over the school safety issue.