PONCHATOULA, La. — A fired teacher in the Tangipahoa Parish School System went to court Monday to get his job back, after he was terminated for using "unnecessary excessive force" to break up a student fight, according to a report by the Baton Rouge Advocate.
Arthur "Rusty" Barilleaux, a health and P.E. teacher, was one of two Ponchatoula Junior High School educators fired this month after a video that went viral online in late March showed them pinning a student to the ground and yelling at her after breaking up a fight.
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The video sparked outage among parents and students, and early this month Tangipahoa Schools Superintendent Melissa Stilley fired Barilleaux and the other teacher, Brett Chatelain, for, "the physical altercation at Ponchatoula Junior High School in which you exhibited unprofessional behavior, inappropriate comments, repeated threats, and unnecessary excessive force, which are violations of the Tangipahoa Parish School System Employee Conduct Policy," she wrote.
On Monday, attorneys for Barrilleaux appealed his termination to the 21st Judicial District Court, calling for him to be reinstated in his old position and receive any lost salary from the firing, The Advocate reports.
"Mr. Barrilleaux’s intervention prevented injury to Mr. Chatelain, the other students who were present and the adults who were present, and was reasonable and appropriate under the circumstances," the appeal claims. “The allegations contained in the Superintendent’s April 11, 2019 letter are inaccurate, invalid, or misrepresented.”
Teachers at Ponchatoula Junior High School walked out of their classrooms last week to protest lack of clear policy for how employees should break up fights with students on campus.