HEBER CITY — A teacher at Wasatch High School, who is also the head football coach, was charged Friday with child abuse, a class A misdemeanor, for a recent incident with a student.
The charge was filed in 4th District Court in Heber.
Steve North, 50, was placed on paid leave "pending an investigation of an incident in the classroom involving a student on Monday, March 7, 2011," according to a statement released by the Wasatch School District.
Although the school district did not directly say what the incident was, people familiar with the incident say North was fed up with a student who was known for back-talking and was disrupting his class.
North was teaching his physical education class about hockey, according to student Clancy Poulson, who witnessed the incident. He said the student involved in the incident came to class late and then continued to talk during the lesson, even after North tapped him on the head to remind him to be quiet.
"He took the kid up against the wall and told him he didn't need him in there," Poulson said. "He always back talks to coach, so he got sick of it, I guess."
Poulson said he believes the student deserved some type of discipline, but pushing him against a wall may have been too much. Nevertheless, he said many of the students, including the one involved, didn't think much about it when it was over.
"He said he was fine with it," Poulson said.
Several emails were sent to the Deseret News and KSL from parents who defended North, a very well-liked teacher and coach. Many of them blamed the student for being extremely disrespectful to North and pushing him to his breaking point.
Superintendent Terry Shoemaker on Friday said North had been an educator at the school for nearly two decades.
"We are aware that a class A misdemeanor child abuse charge has been filed against Steve North by the Wasatch County Attorney's Office. The Wasatch district is filing a report with the Utah State Office of Education Professional Practices Commission as part of our ongoing investigation," he said in a prepared statement.
A court arraignment for North is scheduled for April 20.