‘I was defending myself’ student says of alleged assault at Youngstown school

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Speaking softly and still bearing bruises from the other day, 18-year-old Rodney Johnson Jr. didn’t want to show his face but was willing to talk about his ordeal Monday at Life Skills alternative school in Youngstown.  where he says he was assaulted by a teacher.

Johnson and teacher Mark Vrooman, 39, got into an altercation where police said Vrooman threw punches at Johnson and hit him with a computer.

Johnson isn’t happy about being suspended from the school over the altercation, saying he is the victim. He spoke with First News Weekend Anchor Julie Bercik about the ordeal.

Watch: Extended interview with Life Skills student

“Suspended from school for what? I was defending myself. I just think that is very rude,” Johnson said.

Vrooman was charged in the case. Johnson claims he and Vrooman had an incident earlier in the day where Vrooman got mad and problems spilled over into the afternoon.

“He came up to me and snatched the computer out of my hand and flung it to the back of the room,” Johnson said.

Johnson says he tried to retrieve the device but claims Vrooman got to it first.

“He elbowed me in my chest, and then he lied back up and I said, ‘No, just give me the computer.’ That’s when he just slung and hit me across my face with the computer,” Johnson said.

Before it was over, Johnson said he and Vrooman were on the floor fighting.

Vrooman was arraigned on assault charges Tuesday and left court without talking to reporters.

White Hat Management, which runs Life Skills school, released a one-sentence statement indicating the incident has been “thoroughly reviewed” and administrators are “confident it will be resolved.”

Police confirmed they have had run-ins with Johnson in the past.

Johnson still plans to graduate from Life Skills School later this year.