Two Sparta HS students charged for assault on a teacher, police say

Police say student attacked educator, breaking his glasses

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— Police have charged two Sparta High School students with assault on a teacher following an incident last week in the school's cafeteria.

Nicole Zambenedetti, 18, and a 17-year-old male student, whose name is not yet being released, were suspended indefinitely by the school for their roles in the March 25 incident.

According to the Sparta Police Department, a 38-year-old male teacher, who is not being identified by police, was physically assaulted.

At approximately 11:17 a.m., Cpl. Susan Parkes, the department’s School Liaison Officer, was contacted by school officials and advised of the situation. The initial investigation was conducted by Parkes and Det. Keith Hannam.

After interviewing witnesses and viewing the video from the security surveillance camera, which captured the entire incident, police determined that at 10:47 a.m., students were in the cafeteria eating.

Some students were wearing T-shirts which they had inappropriate hand-written names on the back of them, according to a police department news release. Members of the school administration directed the students to either cover up the inappropriate names or turn the shirts inside out, police said.

The victim was on cafeteria duty and approached a table of eight students. He then directed one student to cover up his shirt, according to police. The students at the table begin to argue with the teacher but the student in question did put a jacket over his shirt, police said.

As the teacher continued to talk to the students, the 17-year-old senior put his cell phone up to the teacher and began recording him. The teacher, who was holding a folder, then raised it to shield the side of his face, the release states.

When the teacher did this, Zambenedetti, a senior, slapped the binder out of the teacher’s hand sending it across the table, according to police.

As the teacher reprimanded Zambenedetti, the 17-year-old again puts the phone up to the teacher. The teacher then reaches for the cell phone and the 17-year-old then suddenly without provocation attacked the teacher, grabbing him with both hands and forcing him backwards, knocking the teachers eye glasses off and breaking them, according to police.

The teacher suffered a minor injury to his hand. He received first aid at the scene but declined further medical treatment.

School security officers and administrators were able to quickly step in and pull the student off the teacher. The student then pulls away from security, pulls his hood over his head and leaves the building. He was later located at his home, according to police.

He was interviewed by detectives at police headquarters later that afternoon in the presence of a parent. The juvenile alleged to detectives that he was attacked from behind by the teacher, the release states.

The security surveillance tape and witness statements do not support the juvenile’s recollection of the events, according to police.

The 17-year-old became argumentative with the detectives, police said. He was charged with aggravated assault and was processed and then released into the custody of a parent. His case will be heard at a date yet to be determined in Newton Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part.

Zambenedetti was charged for her role in the incident with disorderly conduct. She was processed and was scheduled to appear in Sparta Municipal Court on March 31.

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