By Angela Davis

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The Central High School student who admitted to assaulting a teacher has been sentenced.

A Ramsey County Judge sentenced 16-year-old Fon’Tae O’Bannon to 90 days of electronic home monitoring and supervised probation. He must also undergo anger management therapy.

Tuesday also brought the first look at the video of the lunchroom brawl that left teacher John Ekblad with a head injury and hearing loss.

O’Bannon, who pleaded guilty to felony assault in December, was sentenced to house arrest for three months.

Judge James Clark agreed with the probation officer in the case and chose to send the teenager home rather than to a residential treatment facility, which was the recommendation of the county attorney’s office.

O’Bannon must wear an ankle bracelet, but will still be able to go to work and go back to school. It’s not clear where he will finish his junior year.

“This has been a very, very bad nightmare for Fon’Tae,” said his mother, Venus O’Bannon-Hall. “He’s hurt. He’s disappointed. He’s very apologetic.”

O’Bannon-Hall says her son deeply regrets what happened, but she believes he’s not the only one guilty of wrongdoing.

She says the school failed to call her or O’Bannon’s father to inform them of the fight.

Instead she got a call from the police, hours later.

“He’s not the perfect kid,” O’Bannon-Hall said, “but he’s not a violent kid.”

Cell phone video captured the first moments of the fight in the cafeteria at Central High School on Dec. 4.

O’Bannon-Hall says her son was defending his younger brother, who got into a fight with an older student.

She also questions how Ekblad, the teacher, handled the situation.

“That hold that he did by choking him and slinging him from side to side, and him throwing him into the trophy case…that was not a policy of St. Paul Public Schools,” O’Bannon-Hall said.

Diane Dodd, the public defender assigned to O’Bannon’s case, said her client has no criminal past and noted that the judge in the case said that teenage boys have under-developed brains.

O’Bannon-Hall plans to sue the school district for failing to provide a safe environment for students, and wants to see assault charges brought against teacher Ekblad, because she maintains he used force first and caused the situation to escalate rather than calm down.

Meanwhile, Ekblad is also planning to sue St. Paul Public Schools over this incident, claiming the school district has failed to effectively manage school violence, despite having knowledge of the problem.


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