St. Paul Central teacher sues district over Dec. assault

Teacher John Ekblad
St. Paul Central High School teacher John Ekblad was attacked and injured by a student in December. He spoke to reporters at his attorney's Bloomington law office on Dec. 22.
Jon Collins | MPR News 2015

Updated: 10:20 a.m. | Posted: 8:59 a.m.

A St. Paul Central High School teacher who was attacked and injured by a student in December has sued the district.

Science teacher John Ekblad was attacked by a 16-year-old boy in early December. Authorities say Ekblad was trying to break up a fight in the school cafeteria when the student lifted Ekblad by the neck, slammed him down and choked and punched him. Police said the attack left him unconscious for between 10 and 20 seconds.

Ekblad's attorney Philip Villaume said the school district was negligent because it didn't provide Ekblad with a violence-free workplace.

"The school district had knowledge of the harassment, violence, or assaultive behavior of its students, but did not take any appropriate disciplinary action against its students, nor did the school district take any remedial action to prevent assaultive or dangerous conduct," Villaume said.

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Ekblad's attorneys in December filed a notice of claim asking for mediation. Villaume said the district has not agreed to a mediation on the issues. A St. Paul Public Schools spokesperson said the district doesn't comment on pending lawsuits.

Villaume said Ekblad suffered a traumatic brain injury and other injuries during the attack. He said Ekblad suffers from headaches, hearing loss and numbness on the right side of this body.

Ekblad has not returned to work. Villaume said he's "not going back in the foreseeable future."

The student who assaulted Ekblad was sentenced to house arrest in January. The boy must also attend school, pay restitution not covered by health insurance and undergo cognitive behavioral therapy.

MPR News does not typically name minors charged with a crime unless they're certified to be tried as adults.