CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. -- An assistant principal is fighting for his job after school officials fired him, they said, for using excessive force on three students on three separate occasions.
Genghis Shakhan was fired from his position at Riverdale High School.
He is now asking the Clayton County Employee Tribunal Panel to recommend he get his job back.
A Clayton County attorney told the panel Shakhan shouldn't be reinstated because in each of the incidents the assistant principal inappropriately restrained students when there was no threat and his actions escalated the altercations instead of minimizing them.
Winston Denmark had Shakhan's boss, Riverdale High Principal Jamille Miller-Brown, explain how she saw Shakhan handle a student who was cursing, unruly and trying to fight another student.
"How was he restraining her?" Denmark asked.
"From the back like this," Miller-Brown demonstrated.
She showed the panel how she said Shakhan had the female student in a headlock.
During a two-week span, officials said Shakhan tried to restrain three students who were unruly and threatening to fight by putting his hands on them.
In two of the incidents Miller-Brown determined "that the restraint was not appropriate."
Officials said educators can only touch students when the students are in danger of hurting themselves or others.
A school district specialist who trains teachers on how to stop aggressive behavior said Shakhan's headlock was way out of line.
"The headlock again is not something that we teach," John Bastaracau stated.
But Shakhan's attorney said the district is painting his client in a negative light when he was trying hard to keep students safe.
"An educator has the right to restrain a student if that student is a threat," Borquaye Thomas said.
He even pointed out that his client was injured when one of the unruly students fell on top of him.
Thomas said in each case his client was trying to stop students from hurting others.
A potential danger he got the trainer to admit would allow them to be physically restrained.
Thomas asked if a student threatening to shoot others in school would be a strong enough potential threat to allow an educator to put his hands on the student.
"Potential danger? Yes," Bastaracau said.
The school district said no student was ever in danger of getting into a fight and the threat to shoot up the school came after the student became angry that Shakhan put his hands on her.
The hearing will continue next week and the panel will decide whether to uphold Shakhan's firing or recommend that he be reinstated.