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Lawsuit: Woodland Hills substitute head-butted student |

Lawsuit: Woodland Hills substitute head-butted student

Jamie Martines
| Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:53 p.m

The Woodland Hills School District is being sued in connection with an incident involving a substitute teacher who allegedly head-butted a student in October.

Richard Novak is accused of head-butting a 10th-grade student Oct. 24 while serving as a substitute teacher, according to a civil rights lawsuit filed by Pittsburgh attorney D. Aaron Rihn of Robert Peirce and Associates. The law firm is representing the student.

“It’s our understanding that our client was selected at random, and that this teacher was frustrated at class members acting up,” said attorney Rob Peirce, who is also representing the student.

The teacher allegedly hit the student so hard that his head slammed against the wall behind him, according to the complaint.

“He’s continuing to recover,” Peirce said. “Unfortunately, it was a fairly severe concussion.”

Novak also faces a misdemeanor simple assault charge, according to court documents. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. His criminal attorney, David Shrager, declined to comment immediately.

The student has experienced memory loss and headaches, Peirce said.

He’s now back in school, but missed about a week of classes immediately following the incident along with one or two additional days for treatment, Peirce said.

Novak allegedly told the class that he has a metal plate in his head and didn’t feel anything after head-butting the student, according to the complaint.

Both the district and Novak are listed as defendants in the complaint.

The district is reviewing the lawsuit, Superintendent James Harris told the Tribune-Review Thursday. He declined to comment further, but said that Novak was removed from the school the day the incident occurred.

The complaint also stated that Novak is no longer working in the district as a substitute teacher.

Last year in unrelated incidents, a group of students agreed to settle a federal lawsuit against the Woodland Hills School District in which they alleged administrators allowed a culture of violence where adults beat up children.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, or via Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, or via Twitter .

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