Fon’Tae O’Bannon was sentenced to 90 days of supervised probation and home-monitoring in Ramsey County District Court yesterday (01/05/2016) after pleading guilty to felony third degree assault, felony fourth degree and obstructuction of legal process for the December attack on teacher John Ekblad. Along with the 90 days probation, O’Bannon must undergo cognitive behavior therapy, aggression replacement therapy, serve 150 hours of community service, attend school and pay restitution to the teacher and staff member he assaulted on December 4, 2015.
Reports of the incident state that “Fon’Tae O’Bannon picked up (St. Paul Central teacher) John Ekblad, ‘forcefully slam(med)’ him onto a chair and table, then choked him as he lost consciousness. The student and his 15 year old brother, who punched an assistant principal when he attempted to intervene, have been arrested and charged with felony assault.”
The teacher, John Ekblad, has filed a lawsuit against the school district stemming from the December 2015 incident, claiming that the district failed to provide a safe workplace environment which contributed to the injuries he sustained (continued loss of hearing, headaches, vision problems and arm numbness) during O’Bannon’s assault. In a victim’s impact statement to the court during O’Bannon’s sentencing, a Central High School Assistant Principal, who was also involved in the incident, stated that “…the attack was malicious, has left him with night terrors and sweats and struggling to engage with his family and everyday life.” (Star Tribune, 01/05/2015)
During the sentencing hearing, O’Bannon apologized to the victims and their families and asked the judge for leniency.
The case has called into question the discipline policies of St. Paul Public Schools along with the district’s use of the consulting company, Pacific Education Group, of which the district has paid over $3 million over the past few years for “white privilege” and social justice training for the districts’ staff and teachers, and also caused the SPPS Teachers’ Union to threaten to strike days after the December incident occurred.