The teacher, Mark Black, who is also the wrestling coach, pinned the student to the ground. In an email to parents, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Sandra Lyon says the teacher's behavior is "utterly alarming."
She placed Black on leave during an independent investigation.
"Until the investigation is complete, we will not have all the details that led up to this incident; nevertheless, based on what I have viewed, the kind of physical restraint used by the teacher is unacceptable," Lyon said.
We spoke to some students who witnessed the fight. They did not want to be identified, but they defended Black.
"I believe the teacher is being wrongly accused of being aggressive to the student. He was just acting in self-defense," said one student.
The students say it all started as a conflict over drugs.
"The teacher saw the student doing something drug-related. The teacher tried to confiscate it from the student and the student fought back and it got out of control from there," said the student.
They say the teacher was repeatedly stabbed with a pencil but didn't attempt to hurt the student.
"People are portraying him as a bad guy, and I know he was just trying to do the right thing in a bad situation," another student said.
We reached out to Black via email, but so far, we haven't heard back.