Cellphone video of the fight has gone viral, sparking a debate over whether the teacher or student is at fault. Some witnesses say the altercation began when the teacher tried to confiscate something drug-related from the student, Blair Moore, but his family says that is not true.
Moore pleaded not guilty Tuesday and was released on his own recognizance. He was one of two students arrested after the scuffle with the teacher. His family members gathered at the courthouse to lend their support.
"My child is not a gang banger, and let me set the record straight, nor is he a drug dealer," said Moore's mother, Brigitte Spears.
Moore is charged with threatening a school official, battery against a school employee, possession of a weapon on campus (a box cutter) and possession of marijuana on campus -- all misdemeanors.
"Blair has been brought up to respect everyone, to do the best he can in every situation, and we just want the truth to come out, him to be exonerated," said Moore's cousin, Michael Bryan.
But support is also gathering for teacher and wrestling coach Mark Black. A petition to reinstate him has more than 6,000 signatures.
Last week, students told Eyewitness News that Black was simply defending himself.
"He wasn't trying to hurt him. He just wanted him to stop and he was trying to be a teacher and help," said student Kylan Townsend.
Moore's attorney says the video shows Black was the aggressor and that Moore only had a box cutter because he works on a fishing boat as a deckhand.
"The truth will come out, and it's just a travesty that he had to stay in custody from Friday until today," said attorney Omar Bakari.
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Sandra Lyon said placing a teacher involved in an incident on leave is standard policy for the district.
"In no way was our action to place the teacher on paid leave a determination of wrongful conduct or a decision to suspend or discipline him. The teacher involved is a respected coach and educator. We owe him due process protections as we further investigate this incident," Lyon said in a statement.