Student speaks after altercation with teacher

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 6:21 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - “I just thought I was going to die,” Olivia said. “Like, I was like ‘I’m going to die, I’m going to die.’ That’s what I kept thinking.”

13-year-old Olivia Snider is the student seen in a cell phone video being held to the ground by her neck by a teacher at Dwight Rich School of the Arts. Friday, she told News 10 she was scared for her life.

A district spokesperson said Olivia was suspended for hitting her teacher this past Wednesday. Olivia told News 10 she was arguing with her teacher and was pushed out of the classroom, which is when things escalated.

“She shut the door on my face and I started banging on the door telling her to open the door,” Olivia said. “She came out and was about to swing on me, so I started swinging on her. Then, she tripped me and I fell and she started choking me.”

In the video you can see the teacher on top of Olivia with her hands on Olivia’s neck, which left behind marks. Olivia says she thought she was going to die.

“Really tight. Like my face was read and everything,” she said. “I really couldn’t breathe.”

Thursday, the Lansing School District told News 10 it’s aware of the incident and is investigating. The teacher was placed on paid administrative leave and Olivia was suspended from the school. Olivia’s mother, Bobbie Snider, says both should face consequences.

“Olivia did do wrong by putting her hands on the teacher but I don’t think anybody has a right to choke a 13-year-old kid,” Snider said. “It doesn’t matter if its’ mine or anybody else’s. Olivia was wrong for swinging on that teacher, but the teacher was more wrong for handling it the way she did.”

Olivia said she’s had ongoing issues with the teacher and has been waiting to be transferred to another school, but due to COVID the process has been running slow.

News 10 asked the school district for a comment on what Olivia said. A spokesman says they’ll stick with yesterday’s statement that the administration is aware and investigating. On top of the internal investigation, the school is working with Lansing Police. We will keep you updated as the story develops.

Just two days after the incident, the Lansing School District informed parents at Dwight Rich of a new cell phone policy. Now, cell phones must be turned off and put away for the duration of the school day. They may be stored in backpacks, lockers, given to a teacher, or placed in a secure location in the main office. Other electronics that fall under the new policy include iPods, tablets, and smartwatches.

A spokesperson for the district said the policy is not a direct result of the incident this week. He says the district had already been debating the change.

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