Update: Student Slap Fight Could End In A Court Battle

By: John Chapman, Mike McKnight Email
By: John Chapman, Mike McKnight Email

They are upset because a science teacher allegedly forced their sons to fight each other after having an argument in class. One of the mothers is so upset she is pulling her son out of the school.

Instead of marching the boys to the principal’s office, the 39-year-old teacher allegedly escorted the two students behind McMillan where the 14-year-old told Channel 6 News the teacher said, "I’m going to do it my way." The student said, “The teacher said, 'Slap it out!' and we asked him twice if he was serious and he said, 'Yeah.'”

The student said he and his 13-year-old classmate slapped it out for about 20 minutes. "We weren’t serious at all, just joking around and I put him (the other student) in a headlock and asked him if he was done and he said yeah. So we went to the teacher and asked him if we can go back in and he said no, keep going.”

The school resource officer and principal responded to the report of a fight. After questioning, the students told the officer about the teacher’s involvement. The officer viewed a recording of a security camera at the back of the school.

Attorney James Martin Davis was thankful there was video evidence, "Who would believe that...that when kids get in a fight and say, ' The teacher made me do it.' Yeah - sure."

A police report states the teacher, Patrick Kocsis, 39, was cited for two counts of child neglect - misdemeanors. OPS spokesperson Luanne Nelson would only say that Kocsis has been removed from the school pending an investigation.

Channel 6 News left a message Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon on the teacher's home phone in Tekamuh listed in the police report, but have not heard back.

The teachers' union told Channel 6 it could not say if he's represented by the union or an outside attorney.

According to the attorney for the boys' mothers, the students recent suspensions were removed from their personnel records. There will be no punishment, but the parents want to make sure the teacher is punished for allegedly making the boys fight out their differences. They said the case isn't about suing and making money.

Once upon a time, Boys Town’s Father Flanagan would have boys duke it out when nothing else worked, but when a teacher at McMillan allegedly did the same, he faced angry mothers and their lawyer.

“My biggest concern is I raised my son to respect his elders and teachers and to me this is giving a mixed message to children, including my son," said mom Felisa Evans.

“I feel like they didn't have a choice because they were told by authority to do this,” said the other boy’s mother, Sequoia Wilkinson, who now is also represented by Davis. He says Wilkinson's son is ill and just got out of the hospital.

“The school district and the public needs to know that this wasn’t a fight between two kids," said Davis. "It was compelled by a teacher. One 14-year-old who was much larger than the 13-year-old just out of the hospital suffering from sickle-cell anemia.

No one knew that young Wilkinson was ill, but the incident was a major point of discussion on KFAB’s Scott Vorhees show Wednesday morning. The teacher received some support from the community.

“These kids are out of control, shooting at each other.”

“Obviously, they never learned discipline at home.”

Davis and one of the boys’ mothers disagree with their critics. “I don't believe in that, you know, the world is already messed up with enough violence, we've got this stuff going on, enough is enough and to me it just contradicts that,” said Wilkinson.

“Without regard to what the public feeling is, from a legal standpoint these two boys now have to be witnesses in a criminal prosecution and these two boys were encouraged to commit crimes and did so,” said Davis.

"I'd like to think there are better ways to manage it," said Dr. Tom Reimers, Director of the Boys Town Behavioral Health Clinic, who wants to make sure parents tell their children that conflict is part of life. He also explained how to provide the tools so youngsters can solve the problems themselves.

"Children hear it all the time...to focus on problem-solving with words versus actions. Going right to action is a bit backwards."

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