A Milford teacher is under arrest after being accused of placing a student in a headlock.
Mark Ruzbarsky, a math teacher at Jonathan Law High School, was taken into custody July 3 on an arrest warrant.
Police said Ruzbarsky, who is in his fourth year as a math teacher at Jonathan Law High School, was accused of restraining the unidentified student by the neck during a class at the school.
The incident reportedly happened during an algebra class in February, and Ruzbarsky was charged late last week. He said he didn't mean to hurt the student and that it was all meant in fun.
"I think that's absolutely awful," said Courtney Luciana of Milford.
Milford police said Ruzbarsky was teaching the algebra class last February when he noticed a 15-year-old student wasn't completing his classwork.
That's when investigators said he grabbed the student's arm, and according to an arrest "Ruzbarsky then squeezed his neck and pushed his head down," and the victim told police the headlock lasted about one second and that he could not breathe.
"It's OK for teachers to play around with their students here and there but I don't believe in putting their hands on a child whatsoever is OK," said Luciana.
Seconds after the alleged headlock, the victim told police that Ruzbarsky did it again and this time "he couldn't breathe for approximately five seconds."
Ruzbarsky told police that it was all in good fun since "the victim raised his head and smiled at him."
Later that day, the student told a guidance counselor "his neck hurt when he touched it and he did have minor scrapes on his neck," the warrant said.
William B. Westcott, Ruzbarsky's lawyer, said his client had nothing to hide and released this statement:
"He placed his hands on a student's shoulders during math class in an effort to do nothing more than engage the student's attention. Mr. Ruzbarsky was attempting to be boisterous and brotherly in his approach. He was not angry with the student for any reason, nor was he meaning to discipline the student in any way. Mr. Ruzbarsky was both shocked and distraught when he learned only later in the day that he had made the student feel self-conscious and uncomfortable. It is important to note that Mr. Ruzbarsky was quickly returned to work after the school conducted its own investigation, even though the school was aware that this arrest would be forthcoming. It is apparent that the colleagues and administrators who personally know Mark Ruzbarsky are confident he poses no threat whatsoever to the students he supervises and educates."
Ruzbarsky, who is also the assistant wrestling coach at Jonathan Law High School, was charged with third-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace.
The Milford school system would not comment on the case, but it did say that Ruzbarsky remained an employee.
Police said he is due in court July 29.
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