ATLANTA – A 17-year-old student at South Atlanta High School is charged with assault after he got into a physical fight with a school staff member, allegedly hitting the man in the arm, police said.
The student, Zahki Koonce, told police he was in the school’s media center on Oct. 3 when he said he “playfully” hit the 42-year-old staff member in the arm, according to the Atlanta Public Schools Police Department.
Koonce hit the staff member on the shoulder with an open hand, according to surveillance video reviewed by police. The employee rushed at Koonce, grabbing him and shoving him onto a table with books on top, police said. The student, on his stomach, attempted to turn over while being restrained by the teacher who was holding him by the arm, police said.
"Disbelief," said Koonce's mom, Shekela Koonce. "I could never understand any adult just hitting a child like that."
Koonce made a sudden movement and was struck in the face by the staff member and pushed off the table onto the floor, surveillance video showed. The student and staffer are seen arguing with each other as they leave the media center, the police description goes on to say.
On Tuesday, 11Alive learned the adult was fired and the student was charged. Atlanta Public Schools released a statement saying:
"The District has completed a review of the incident. The employee has been removed from the school and is currently proceeding through the steps of the District’s disciplinary process according to the civil service policy. Upon further review of the incident, we have determined that the charges against the student should be dropped and will indicate that to the court."
"You don't need to be around kids if you're attacking kids that way," said Shekela Koonce. "You can't be around kids and just go off. It could have been anybody's child."
Zahki Koonce said he and the administrator never had any problems before.
"He might tap me on the head and be like, make sure you go to class, go to class... but never any bad vibes," he said. "So for this to happen, it had me shocked."
Atlanta Public Schools has recommended that simple battery charges against Koonce should be dropped.