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Tulsa School teacher fired

Updated:
A Tulsa teacher accused of assaulting a student is without a job. The Tulsa School Board decided late Monday night to fire Clinton Middle School teacher Mark French.

News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims spent hours at the Monday hearing which brought new information about French's past.

After less than six months with Tulsa Public Schools, Mark French faced a dismissal hearing. His lawyer described him as a devout Christian, a good teacher who received compliments from students and parents about his music program.

The school district's attorney painted a completely different picture. TPS attorney Matt Cyran: "I think it’s clear that Mr. French has control problems with students and the only way he knows how to control them is to put his hands on them.”

Mark French is accused of assaulting and injuring a 13-year-old student last month. But several Clinton administrators told the school board, that wasn't the first time French had gotten physical with a student. They say he was reprimanded in January for pushing a sixth-grader into a chair and bending the child's arm behind his back.

And several were concerned then, he might do it again. Teresa Pena: "My opinion after seeing his behavior and listening to him was that he would still take matters into his own hands and correct students the way he had corrected them previously.”

French did not deny either incident, but he argued that these students were out of control. He says he repeatedly complained about unruly students, but nothing was done. French also said he didn't think his emergency button worked and he couldn't get to the phone to call security. "Just the vulgarity, the defiance, that she took control of the classroom. I was put into a situation that I had to exert control for the other students to respect me as a teacher something had to take place."

After seven witnesses and five hours of testimony, the Tulsa school board went into executive session. They deliberated for about nineteen minutes, before coming back with a decision. The school board called French's use of force inappropriate. And they voted unanimously to fire him.

French said he was shocked and dismayed. “I wanna tell them I am sorry that I couldn't be there for them and we couldn’t finish out the year and I know a lot of students will be heart broken and just hope for the best."
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