Local teacher accused of choking student

WEST COVINA, Calif. A West Covina High School teacher has been placed on leave after he allegedly choked one of his students.

Shop teacher, Greg Hankerd, is accused of not only wrapping the cord of an electrical sander around a student's neck, but also of pulling on it.

The incident allegedly took place during shop class at the school three days ago.

Andrew Valdez, 14, says he stayed home from school Friday because the incident apparently triggered his asthma.

"I saw a couple of kids that were using an automatic sander so I used it. He told me not to use it and then he took it away," said Valdez. "So I continued to sand my thing and then I felt the cord go around my neck. I felt him cross it and he started to pull. There was a point where I could not breathe. It was an actual pull, like he was trying to scare me or something."

Hankerd is employed by the Regional Occupational Program. The program places vocational teachers in schools like West Covina High.

"We are looking into the allegations and investigating it," said Colleen Crawford, deputy superintendent of the East San Gabriel Valley ROP. "There is very little I can tell you. This is an employee of the San Gabriel Valley ROP and we are just going through the process."

Andrew's mother and father are shocked and upset by what happened.

"Nobody is going to put their hands on my son. If I don't put my hands on him, nobody else is going to," said Candis Valdez.

"He is an authority figure at the school and for him to traumatize my kid is unacceptable. The incident has also triggered his asthma," said Ricardo Valdez.

Students at the school are also appalled by what happened.

"It's just disrespectful, and if you're a teacher you shouldn't have any right to put your hands on a student," said student Shante Clarke.

"I don't know what kind of teacher would strangle a student. That's pretty far-fetched," said student Alyssa Reyes.

ROP officials and police are continuing their investigation into the alleged incident. For now officials say Hankerd will remain on leave.

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