A Vermont teacher went before a judge Thursday to face a criminal accusation that he assaulted a high schooler inside a classroom.
Bud Allen, the defense attorney for Dave Scibek of Colchester, noted that his client has a clean record, and entered a not guilty plea to a simple assault charge.
Scibek is the former fire chief in Malletts Bay, and a retired Burlington police officer.
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He's now on paid administrative leave from his job as a criminal justice instructor at the tech ed center attached to Burlington High School.
In court paperwork, investigators described the 52-year-old asking a 16-year-old female student in late November of 2017 to drop and do 20 pushups, after getting caught throwing a gum wrapper.
The teacher told detectives when the girl wouldn’t do those pushups, he demonstrated an old cop technique on her: applying pressure to a sensitive part of the head to make unruly suspects comply.
The teen reported the move hurt, making her fall out of her chair and hit part of a cabinet. She told her mom she was in fear for her life, and police later photographed a small bruise.
"Unfortunately, I have no comment, thank you," Scibek said when approached by necn after the brief court hearing.
In documents filed with the court, Scibek claimed to detectives the incident was no big deal, adding that his student was even smiling and laughing after the incident.
In her interview with police, the student acknowledged she was smiling, but that was because she didn’t want her fellow students to know that she was “actually terrified.”
Scibek told detectives he thought the student was "manipulating the environment" out of embarrassment for being called out in class.
The Burlington School District declined necn’s request for an interview, but issued the following statement:
"Student safety while in our care is of the upmost importance and we take any allegations seriously. At this time, we cannot comment on any specifics of the alleged incident regarding Dave Scibek, other than to say that in accordance with his due process rights he has been on paid administrative leave since the alleged incident occurred, pending investigation of the allegations."
After Dave Scibek's attorney entered a not guilty plea on a simple assault charge, Judge Nancy Waples authorized the teacher to be released on his own recognizance.
According to court records, several students interviewed by police described Scibek as a popular and good teacher.
Even the student who prompted the criminal accusation told investigators that she had a normal relationship with the instructor in the days before the incident, and that she previously thought he was a good teacher and respected him.