Former teacher discusses chair flipping incident - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Former teacher discusses chair flipping incident

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Video shows teacher flipping student out of his chair. (submitted video/WFSB) Video shows teacher flipping student out of his chair. (submitted video/WFSB)

A West Haven middle school teacher fired for getting aggressive with a student on camera talked with a local radio disc jockeys about the incident.

David Pfaff discussed this firing with Chaz & AJ on 102.9 the Whale, 99.1 PLR  and 95.9 the Fox on Tuesday morning. He later spoke to Eyewitness News on camera.

Pfaff was fired after a video surfaced showing him yank the chair from underneath a student, which sent him to the floor. The incident in question happened at the end of September, beginning of October.

The exclusive 10-second video that viewers first saw on Eyewitness News on Monday shows the incident, but what you didn't see was what happened leading up to that.

“People will see the five second video clip of it happening. But that five second clip doesn’t show the five minutes that led up to it,” Pfaff said.

Pfaff said the student, who he did not identify, has a history of “behavioral problems.” When Pfaff said he asked the student to move chairs, the situation escalated

“Then he swore at me and swore at me using very inappropriate language,” Pfaff said.

However, Pfaff said there is no video of the student swearing.

After the chair is yanked from the student, Pfaff said he had a “meltdown” and knocked over chairs as well as wrecking items in the classroom.

“He tried to be all tough and intimidating,” Pfaff said.

At that point, Pfaff said he had no choice but to call building security.

“I was trying to give the child a chance,” Pfaff said.

Pfaff said the student was checked out by the nurse and did not complain about injuries.

After the nurse’s visit, Pfaff said he talked with the student.

On Tuesday, Pfaff spoke to Eyewitness News and said the incident is something he will regret for the rest of his life.

"For a few days after this incident happened, I would wake up in the middle of the night, thinking, what's going to happen to me," Pfaff said. "People go on the news and say 'I'm really sorry for what happened' and they're only sorry because they got caught, but I'm genuinely sorry."

Pfaff, who taught science, was just hired in West Haven this summer. Because Pfaff was still a probationary employee, the district quickly fired him.

Since incident, a criminal investigation was launched against Pfaff.

School parents also reacted to the incident and the apology.

"He probably should've showed more restraint. I don't know why he didn't just call security," said parent Chris Skeens.

"We're all human beings, we're not God. Sometimes we do make a mistake. I'm sure he'll learn from it," said parent Lucy Abraham.

The toughest criticism is coming from students.

"He shouldn't have reacted the way he did. That was very violent and could've hurt the student," said student Lydia Abraham.

Pfaff said he'd love the opportunity to teach again, but he doesn't know if he will ever get that chance.

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