Riverside Academy teacher accused of choking student

Riverside Academy teacher accused of choking student

RESERVE, LA (WVUE) - (Correction: Earlier we reported that we reached out to the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board relating to this matter. However, Riverside Academy is a private school and this teacher is not affiliated in any way with the school district.) 

Deputies arrested a former Tulane and LSU coach Monday after he allegedly choked a high school student in Reserve.

The school said the teacher has been suspended indefinitely pending the outcome of the investigation.

School officials at Riverside Academy in Reserve said that Curtis Tsuruda was arrested after several other students said they witnessed him choking a student in the classroom last Thursday. Tsuruda was booked with cruelty to a juvenile with force.

Tsuruda does have a criminal background. In 2014 in Ascension Parish he was charged with cruelty to a juvenile after officials said he admitted to tricking a student into taking steroids. Tsuruda instead told the child he was taking creatine.

Those charges were forwarded to the Louisiana attorney general's office. We tried to contact the office but have not heard back.

A Louisiana Department of Education spokesperson says there are requirement for non-public schools, such as Riverside Academy, when it comes to employing teachers.

State officials say no person who has been convicted of or has pled nolo contendere to a crime listed in R.S. 15:587.1(C) shall be hired by any elementary or secondary school as a teacher, substitute teacher, bus driver, substitute bus driver, janitor, or as a temporary, part-time, or permanent school employee of any kind unless approved in writing by a district judge of the parish and the parish district attorney or if employed on an emergency basis, unless approved in writing by either the superintendent of the school system or school leader.

The statement of approval shall be kept on file at all times by the school and shall be produced upon request to any law enforcement officer, and not later than thirty days after its being placed on file by the school, the school principal shall submit a copy of the statement of approval to the state superintendent of education.

The La. Department of Education says they have no such record on file for Tsuruda working at Riverside Academy.

Tsuruda's teaching history includes stints as a strength and conditioning coach at Tulane, LSU and the University of Hawaii.

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