ZEPHYRHILLS — A video of the Zephyrhills High School principal taking down a student to stop a fight became something of an Internet sensation last week, drawing the attention of viewers throughout the Tampa Bay area, including some at school district headquarters.
The district's verdict: The video appears to back up Principal Andy Frelick's version of things.
District officials reviewed the video, even looking at it in slow motion, and determined no further action is warranted, said Linda Cobbe, spokeswoman for the district.
The fight between two students happened the morning of Sept. 19, and Frelick came running up just as the more aggressive student was about to throw a punch. Frelick said he hadn't intended to tackle the student, but he tripped as he rushed up and stumbled into the teenager, who was also off balance. They both went down.
Cobbe said the district determined it did appear Frelick tripped.
“And knowing him, we know he wouldn't go diving at a student,” she said. “It's troubling that people kept saying he tackled the kid when it's clear he stumbled.”
Some commenting on the Internet criticized Frelick, but most praised his actions.
The altercation was being videotaped by another student before Frelick became involved. Frelick later expressed disappointment that the student decided to make a video rather than intervene to try to stop the fight or alert an adult about what was happening.
By lunchtime that same day, the video was on Youtube and it later made its away to Facebook. By the next day, it was the subject of news media reports.