ARC professor placed on paid leave after martial arts ‘mishap’

The American River College professor whose classroom was the site of a martial arts demonstration that resulted in the injury of a former student has been placed on paid leave, Los Rios Community College district officials confirmed.

Mitchel Benson, district spokesman, said Professor Geoffrey Stockdale was placed on paid leave Thursday while officials investigate the incident.

“Several of his colleagues at the college have volunteered to take over his course load so the students wouldn’t suffer,” Benson said, noting that Stockdale had been scheduled to teach seven classes this semester.

Video of the incident, captured on a cellphone and uploaded to YouTube, shows two men playfully brawling on the floor of Stockdale’s interpersonal communication class, while other students look on. At one point, one man bumps his head on the ground and starts bleeding. Stockdale, seen in the background watching the demonstration, does not intervene.

The Oct. 14 incident was first reported by the American River Current, the student-run newspaper, which called the episode an “altercation.” Footage of the incident and subsequent media reports has stoked controversy on the community college campus.

“I’m on administrative leave at the moment, pending an evaluation of my fitness to teach,” Stockdale said by phone Tuesday . “I’ve been advised by the teachers’ union and the college not to talk.”

But in an earlier interview, the longtime communications professor slammed the student newspaper for what he called “sensationalized” coverage.

“If it bleeds, it leads,” he said. “It was a minor mishap. It was not an altercation.”

Related stories from Sacramento Bee