Brian Fischer, a teacher at Solomon-Plains Educational Complex, was setting up for a dance in the school’s cafeteria on Feb. 9 when a student approached him.
School officials had suspended Keyon Mutua, 12, after the student said an expletive while in gym class, court documents say. That meant Keyon couldn’t attend the school dance later that night, according to WNEP, and he wanted to receive a $30 refund for the price of the ticket.
Keyon asked Fischer for his money back twice, he told the TV station, but the teacher refused both times. The student admitted to yelling at Fischer a final time.
“The first time I was like calmly asking him for my money,” Keyon told WNEP, “and the second time, no, the third time I asked him, I yelled at him.”
That’s when police say Fischer, 57, grabbed the preteen by the neck and began pushing him back, according to surveillance footage at the school. Principal Sean Flynn then came into the cafeteria, according to the Times-Leader, and the teacher allegedly stopped choking Keyon and moved his hands to the boy’s shoulders.
Flynn and a school resource officer separated the pupil and teacher, according to WNEP.
The two had different stories about why they were in a physical altercation. Fischer said that Keyon “entered his space” while cursing at him and asking for money — so the teacher defended himself by pushing the 12-year-old back, according to the Citizens’ Voice.
Keyon said Fischer “just lunged at me and choked the (expletive) out of me,” according to the arrest affidavit obtained by the Voice. The student had difficulty breathing after the alleged choking.
But the surveillance footage “clearly” showed that Fischer choked the student in a “seemingly unprovoked” manner, the school resource officer wrote in arrest papers. Just prior to the alleged choking, Keyon was described as “not aggressive,” the Voice reported.
Fischer, a 34-year district employee who made $86,196 last year, now faces charges of harassment and strangulation, according to the Times-Leader. The charges were approved by a judge on Tuesday and sent to Fischer, who is suspended without pay. He had been suspended with pay until the charges were formally filed.
The teacher from the Wilkes-Barre Area School District is set for a preliminary hearing in April. He did not respond to a request for comment from multiple outlets.
Crystal Mutua, Keyon’s mother, told WNEP that her “stomach hurt, really, really bad” when she saw what happened to her boy.
“You just took my son back five steps with trust of the system,” she said, “with trust of the school system.”