LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Jefferson County Public Schools teacher involved in a fight with a student on school grounds has been relieved of his duties.
William Bennett, a Moore High School teacher, was terminated from the district by Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio on Dec. 16 after a lengthy investigation revealed that he escalated the incident involving 16-year-old Jamir Strane on Aug. 23.
The fight, caught on video and widely shared on social media, began after Bennett had issues with the student’s face mask color.
According to the documents, there was a brief verbal exchange that ended in Bennett making a comment about the reasons why Strane had been previously shot. Strane’s attorney Aubrey Williams told WHAS11 News in September the words used prior to the fight had a traumatic effect on him since he was a gunshot survivor.
Witnesses told investigators when the fight happened, they tried multiple times to de-escalate the situation. Surveillance video and witnesses supported that Bennett charged, grabbed and pulled the student by his hair, refusing to let go despite multiple attempts by staff and students.
When the situation was finally under control, investigators said he tried to engage in another altercation with Strane.
The report further details Bennett made “inappropriate comments and displayed unprofessional behavior” saying his “sister hits harder.”
Bennett told investigators that he was separated from Strane, and he was trying to go to the counselor’s office. Surveillance video showed him 10-feet past the counselor’s office and he never made any attempts to walk inside, they say.
The letter further said Bennett’s actions during the encounter with Strane “exceeded the force reasonably believed to be necessary to protect the student and others.” Pollio said Bennet’s aggression towards Strane should have stopped the moment other staff arrived.
The altercation wasn’t the only thing addressed in the termination letter. JCPS also looked into his employment history and previous issues he had with other districts.
Bennett can appeal his termination.
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