Omaha teacher accused of letting boys fight

AP News
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Posted: Aug 24, 2011 3:10 PM
Omaha teacher accused of letting boys fight

A 39-year-old Omaha teacher has been suspended by the district and cited by police, accused of taking two teen students from his classroom and encouraging them to resolve their dispute outside during a nearly 20-minute brawl.

Patrick Kocsis faces two counts of misdemeanor child neglect for an incident that occurred Monday at McMillan Magnet Center middle school in northeast Omaha.

District spokeswoman Luanne Nelson said Wednesday that she didn't know what started the disagreement that began in an eighth-grade science classroom and included slaps, pushing and shoving.

Nelson said typically a teacher would have referred the boys to an administrator.

But Felisa Evans, mother of 14-year-old Micah, said Kocsis instead led the boys out of the class and down hallways, past the office. Evans said her son told her that he and the other boy asked Kocsis whether they were being taken to the principal, but he said no.

According to Evans, Kocsis told the boys that they were going to settle their dispute his way.

Once the three of them got outside, Evans said, Kocsis turned to the boys and said he was going to have the two of them "slap it out."

They asked him twice whether he was serious, Evans said, and he assured them he was. So, the boys then flailed away and grappled for about 20 minutes.

The fight was broken up when the principal and a security officer came to investigate a report about a fight.

A police report said the incident was recorded by a school security camera outside.

The district has suspended Kocsis with pay, pending an internal investigation, Nelson said. He's worked at McMillan for all nine years he's been with the district, she said.

Kocsis didn't immediately return phone and email messages from The Associated Press. Online court records don't list the name of his attorney.

A call to the home of the other boy wasn't immediately returned.

Evans said her son told her he couldn't even remember what the dispute was about.

After the boys talked to administrators, district spokeswoman Nelson said, the boys were given an in-school suspension for the rest of the day.

Evans said she retained an attorney to help her push the district into removing the suspension from her son's record. She said neither her son nor the school officials she talked to mentioned any slapping or other violence in the classroom that day.

"These kids were not fighting," Evans said. "The teacher instructed these children to fight, to settle their differences.

"That's not what we teach children to resolve disputes," she said.

A district official called her Wednesday morning to say the suspension would be removed from Micah's record, Evans said.

Now, she said, she wants to make sure Kocsis' case is handled by the law.

"I don't want him to be a teacher at OPS schools. I don't think he should be a teacher, period," Evans said.