A student in Nicosia says he was assaulted by his high school principal, who gave his own version of events saying he was simply trying to identify the youngster during a smoke bomb prank on first day of classes.
Local media this week picked up on a viral video on social media showing a physical altercation between a high school male student and his principal, with the footage emerging on back to school day on Wednesday.
Lawyer says principal assaulted student
According to local attorney Alexis Alexandrou, who represents the student and his family, the teenager has filed a complaint with local police saying he was the victim of an act of violence perpetrated by his school principal at an unnamed school in Nicosia district.
“The principal assumed that the student in question was responsible for smoke bombs and flares that were thrown prior to the incident,” the lawyer said.
Video images on social media showed what appeared to have been a physical altercation, with Alexandrou suggesting the principal assaulted his client.
“It appears that he grabbed him in a violent manner and threw him to the ground,” Alexandrou said.
Principal denies hitting hooded teen
The school principal denies ever striking the student.
In a statement to a local TV network, the educator said he was trying to protect students from hooded youth and other unknown persons during their school prank.
The principal said the incident took place in the morning just before the school bell rang, where “4 to 5 hooded males together with a group of students lit flares on the upper floor.”
'As a school principal it is my duty to protect students from non-student outsiders and unknown persons with hoodies and this is why I tried to immobilize him'
“I ran upstairs and grabbed a hooded individual by the hoodie. He was trying to get away as I was holding him in order to show his face,” the principal said.
The incident took place in the presence of other students, who were seen standing or walking away, including a person who recorded the video.
But the lawyer says the student was not wearing a hoodie and that he was covering his face within his clothes in order to protect his eyes from smoke.
“His eyes got irritated and he could not see,” Alexandrou said, arguing that the irritation was such that his client was feeling pain.
The lawyer went on to accuse the principal of “not letting go” even as the student told him “my eyes hurt, let me go,” adding that the principal, according to allegations by his client, “continued to grab the clothes, throwing him to the floor and as a result causing him cuts and bruises.”
Alexandrou said police ought to investigate the incident but also called on the education ministry to look into the matter.
School pranks involving the unlawful throwing of smoke bombs and flares on first day of classes have been a tradition for high school seniors in the Republic of Cyprus, with authorities unable to suppress the phenomenon often described in the media as battlefield scenes.
While the pranks appear every year in schools in all districts, in 2020 a school community in Paralimni was particularly shocked after perpetrators incorporated living and dead animals in their smoke and flare stunt.
“As a school principal it is my duty to protect students from non-student outsiders and unknown persons with hoodies and this is why I tried to immobilize him,” the educator argued.
“Under no circumstances did I ever strike him, I was simply pulling hi firmly by the hoodie,” the principal said.