Staff member punched at Clayton Academy

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A Clayton Academy student accused of punching a staff member and threatening to kill him has been arrested on assault charges.

Police said Deandre Watkins, 18, punched Operations Director Corey Benson in the face Wednesday, then pushed him into a wall. Mr. Benson had asked the student to leave the North Side campus because he brought a phone into school and would not turn it over.

Pittsburgh Public Schools contracts with an outside company to run Clayton Academy, which is for students in grades 6-12 who have had behavior issues in regular city public schools.

Mr. Watkins was arraigned this morning on charges of aggravated assault, terroristic threats and defiant trespass. He also received a summary offense for disorderly conduct, according to court records.

Pittsburgh school police Officer James Corr wrote in a criminal complaint that he was alerted about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday that a staff member had been assaulted. Mr. Benson told police that Mr. Watkins did not turn his phone in when he arrived at school that day, so he told the student to leave.

Another school official and Mr. Benson escorted Mr. Watkins to the lobby and told him to leave school grounds, according to the complaint. Mr. Watkins refused and told Mr. Benson he knew where he lives and that he "was going to be there tonight to kill you," Officer Corr wrote.

Mr. Benson tried to escort him out the door when Mr. Watkins punched him and "forcefully pushed" him in a wall. The other school official and Mr. Benson restrained Mr. Watkins and held him to the ground before he was handcuffed by police, Officer Corr wrote in the complaint.

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Molly Born: or 412-263-1944.


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