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pricipal chokes high school student Ashley Johnson

A photo (above) of a California high school principal appearing to harshly restrain a high school student has gone viral on Facebook, but there are questions over whether the image reveals the whole story.

KTVU Channel 2 reports that the photo was snapped last Friday as Pittsburg High School principal Todd Whitmire restrained a 15-year-old student who he says refused to stop fighting with another male student. “(The photo) certainly doesn’t show what happened,” he said.

While Whitmire says he isn’t worried about how the photo makes him appear, he did say he was concerned by the derogatory comments in the Facebook threads. Twelve students were suspended as a result of the fight, two for the actually fight and 10 for their social media activity connected to the photo on various Facebook accounts.

California’s anti-cyber bullying laws allow educators to use posts on social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as evidence to discipline students.

The student appearing to be in a choke hold, Ashley Johnson, said that her neck was injured when Whitmire tried to restrain her. She is now wearing a neck brace. In fact, Johnson claims she was drawn into the fight and that the male student slammed her against a wall.

“I wasn’t fighting back,” Johnson said. “I was lying on the ground.”

But Lt. Ron Raman of the Pittsburg Police Department said the fight may have been part of a larger planned attack that was coordinated over social media.

“We had some information through social media that several students were planning a fight,” Raman told the Contra Costa Times. “So we had our school resource officers and additional officers show up to the school to (back up) staff. We had at least six officers and a supervisor there.”

At this time, there are no charges pending against the principal and there is no evidence of battery taking place during the melee, Raman said.

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