Confirmed victory

Mark Black, longtime science teacher and wrestling coach at Santa Monica High School, was attacked on April 4, 2014, by a student in his classroom. Allegedly, Mr. Black saw the student selling drugs to another student.  When Mr. Black attempted to confiscate the drugs, the student would not comply and attacked him.

In an attempt to protect himself and not injure the student, Mr. Black placed him in a restraint hold to stop him from further attack.  This was in an effort to get the situation under control until the proper authorities could be contacted. Multiple students present in the classroom have said that Mr. Black had little choice and that the student even stabbed him with a pencil while punching him.

The other student involved in the drug sale, attempted to attack Mr. Black as he was restraining his original attacker.  The student struck Mr. Black in the head and threw and unidentified object at him in his attempt.  Both young men were arrested by the Santa Monica Police Department.  

But almost immediately the superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, Sandra Lyon, placed Mr. Black on leave and released a statement in which she sided with the students. Now, he is at risk of losing his job.

Mark Black is a good teacher who doesn’t deserve to lose his job for protecting himself and the other students in his classroom. He is nearly 60 years old and has been teaching for more than 30 years.  In addition, he has trained and taught wrestling & self defense for 45 years.  

The student who initially attacked Mr. Black was booked on suspicion of threatening a school official, battery against a school employee, being in possession of a weapon -- a box cutter -- and possession of marijuana.

As a former student-athlete at Santa Monica High School, I am writing this petition on behalf of the many students, parents, teachers, and coaches who have had the distinct pleasure to know, be mentored by, and work with Mark Black.  He is a jewel in the classroom and athletic arenas, to which he has instructed thousands of young men and women. According to District School Board Member, Oscas De la Torre, “From me knowing Mr. Black personally — he was a former teacher of mine — I know him to be a fair person.”

Please support this effort. Mr. Black deserves to be reinstated to his teaching and coaching position at Santa Monica High School.

Thank you.

Timothy Conley
Alumni 95'


Letter to
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District - Superintendent Sandra Lyon
Santa Monica High School - Principal Eva Mayoral
Board of Education Santa Monica-Malibu School District
and 1 other
California Teachers Association Harry Keiley
Reinstate Mark Black at Santa Monica High School