By KAREN VELIE
An administrator accused of assaulting a student at Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School in San Luis Obispo was placed on administrative leave after his alleged victim was granted a temporary restraining order.
On Nov. 3, Russ Griffith, a former SLO police officer, placed a student in a headlock during lunch for allegedly using a curse word. A hold the SLO Police Department only allows officers to use to restrain violent or combative individuals, according to department policy.
Shortly after the altercation, Mission Prep administrators placed Griffith on suspension and the police department sent a report of the incident to the district attorney’s office for review.
Just three weeks after he placed the teen in a carotid choke hold, Griffith returned to work at Mission Prep. A few days later, a judge granted the student a temporary restraining order against Griffith, the director of student life. Griffith is currently prohibited from coming within 100 yards of the student, a 16-year-old football star.
In court documents, the student claims that he used a curse word toward a friend while telling him to turn off annoying, loud music. Griffith then approached him from behind and unexpectedly put him in the choke hold.
While restraining the teen, the administrator threatened that he could drop him or make him pass out, the student stated in a court document. The student also claims that, while being restrained, he could hardly breathe and felt like he was going to pass out.
After learning that a judge had granted the student a retraining order, Principal Mike Susank sent an email to parents announcing that Griffith is on a leave of absence:
“Dear Mission College Prep Parents, Faculty, and Staff:
“As you have probably learned from the media, one of our students recently obtained an ex parte temporary restraining order against the Director of Student Life, Mr. Griffith. I learned of this from the media late Monday afternoon. I want to assure you that Mission College Prep followed its procedures in dealing with the initial incident and will continue to act in the best interests of our students. Mr. Griffith and the school have agreed that he will take a leave of absence until the hearing on the order. This is a deeply unfortunate situation but one that we will weather. I believe that steps have been taken to absolutely ensure the safety and personal dignity of each of our students and that Mission College Prep is a safe place for our students, faculty and staff.
“I would invite any member of the MCP community, including students to please contact me as soon as possible should there be any concern or comment about this, or any other element of your student’s experience at MCP. Thank you for your partnership and for sharing your family with us in this ministry.”