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Students Attack Sparta High Teacher in Cafeteria, Police Say

Teacher suffers minor hand injury in incident caught on school surveillance video.

Two Sparta High students have been charged in the attack of a teacher in the school cafeteria Wednesday morning that was caught on a security camera, police said.

A 17-year-old boy, who has not been identified due to his age, has been charged with juvenile delinquency alleging aggravated assault.

Nicole Zambenedetti, 18, was charged with disorderly conduct.

Both students have been suspended from Sparta High School indefinitely.

According to Sgt. John-Paul Beebe, a number of students were in the cafeteria shortly before 11 a.m. Wednesday wearing T-shirts with handwritten names on the back and members of the school administration directed some of them with "inappropriate" names written to either cover them up or turn the shirts inside out.

The students complied without incident, Beebe said.

However, a table of eight students began arguing with a 38-year-old male teacher who had directed one of them to cover up the name on his shirt, Beebe said.

As the teacher was talking to the students, a 17-year-old boy put his cell phone up to the teacher and began recording, Beebe said. The teacher shielded the side of his face with a binder he was holding, Beebe said.

Zambenedetti then slapped the binder out of the teacher's hand and across the table, according to Beebe. As the teacher reprimanded Zambenedetti, the 17-year-old senior again put the phone up to the teacher, Beebe said.

The teacher then reached for the cell phone and the 17-year-old "suddenly without provocation attacked the teacher, grabbing him with both hands and forcing him backwards, knocking the teacher's eye glasses off and subsequently breaking them," Beebe said.

School security and administrators pulled the teen off the teacher. The 17-year-old then pulled his hood over his head and left the building, Beebe said.

The teen was later found at his home and then questioned at police headquarters while one of his parents were present.

The boy accused the teacher of attacking him from behind, Beebe said. However, the security video footage and witness statements contradicted the teen's claims, according to Beebe.

"When the 17-year-old became argumentative with the detectives, the interview was terminated," Beebe said.

The teen was charged and released to a parent. A date has not yet been set for his first appearance at Newton Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part.

Zambenedetti is scheduled to appear in Sparta Municipal Court at 6 p.m. Monday.

The teacher suffered a minor injury to his hand, was treated at the scene and declined further treatment.
Jim Copeland March 29, 2014 at 02:06 PM
When I was a kid if I showed disrespect to one of my teachers .I would be afraid to go home that night because I knew what was coming. As soon as I walked in the door there would be someone waiting for me. He would take off from work to make sure he was there to greet me it would get real ugly real fast.
Duncan Munchkin March 29, 2014 at 02:28 PM
Sparta...it figures.
Les Legato March 31, 2014 at 12:55 AM
Put him in jail with the adults for a month and maybe he'll LEARN TO MIND HIS MANNERS.
Steve Smith April 02, 2014 at 04:59 AM
@Jim Copeland...let me guess - it worked! You didn't grow up to be a P0S like this punk! If I misbehaving like this, back in the day, I had the same waiting for me when I got home - usually from two parents who fought over who was going to put a foot up where the sun didn't shine! When they EACH were done, I wouldn't be able to sit down for a week!

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