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Money is pouring in for California teacher seen punching high school student in video

Marston Riley, teacher at Maywood Academy High School in California, was caught on video punching a student and arrested, police say. A GoFundMe page has raised money to pay off the teacher’s bail.
Marston Riley, teacher at Maywood Academy High School in California, was caught on video punching a student and arrested, police say. A GoFundMe page has raised money to pay off the teacher’s bail. Screenshot from YouTube

Money is pouring in for a California teacher seen brawling with a 14-year-old student on video at Maywood Academy High School.

Marston Riley, 64, was arrested Friday on suspicion of child abuse after police say the black music teacher punched a teenage student who continued to harass him with racial slurs, according to The Los Angeles Times. The video shows the student throwing a basketball at the teacher and asking him “why you wisecracking, my n-----?” Riley eventually approaches the student and begins punching him.

He was released from jail Saturday on a $50,000 bail — and a GoFundMe page aims to raise that money for Riley. The student, who was not identified by authorities, was rushed to the hospital with “moderate” injuries, according to The Los Angeles Times.

That GoFundMe page was created by Cecilia Diaz Jimenez, who says she worked at the high school where the fight happened for four years. As of Monday afternoon, it had amassed just over $37,000 .

“Be mindful that the school district is looking at dismissing him and I would not doubt if the student’s parents are looking into pressing criminal charges,” she wrote on the GoFundMe page. “I am sure Mr. Riley will need money to pay any fines, fees and lawyers.”

The Los Angeles Unified School District responded to the recorded brawl in a statement.

“We take this matter very seriously and do not condone violence or intolerance of any kind,” the statement reads, according to The Los Angeles Times. “Los Angeles Unified is cooperating with law enforcement in investigating this incident.”

Riley thanked donors to the page in a YouTube video, calling those who helped out a “blessing.”

According to KTLA, students — who spoke on camera but had their identities withheld — said the confrontation between Riley and the student started because of a dress code violation. Riley told the student to leave because he didn’t have a uniform on, but the teen refused, witnesses told the outlet.

From there, it devolved into racial slurs and a physical fight, students say, according to ABC7.

One student wondered if “everything was planned” and said some students had their cellphones out before the fight, according to KTLA, while another said Riley is a “really nice teacher” who he has never had a problem with before.

Enrique DeHaro, a student at Maywood Academy, told ABC7 in a TV interview that he sees blame on both sides.

“I was scared for the student,” he said, “and probably the teacher, too.”

Ivan Valencia, another student at the school, said he felt uncomfortable because the student was being “kind of racist,” ABC7 reported.

But not everyone is giving the teacher a pass. Jenni Chavez, who lives in Maywood, said Riley could have reacted in a more professional manner — even if he was taunted with discriminatory words, according to CBS Los Angeles.

“That’s really disrespectful. It’s a teacher, so that’s not OK, you know,” she said, according to CBS Los Angeles. “But however, it’s still not OK for the teacher to have punched a student either.”

Riley is due back in court on Nov. 30.

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