Antioch High School teacher wants to press charges after pepper spray incident

He said the problem isn’t the staff at the school, but with those not working there, the students.
Teacher speaks after pepper spray incident at Antioch High School
Published: May. 10, 2023 at 7:23 PM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - An Antioch High School teacher says he wants to press charges after he was pepper sprayed by one of his students.

Caleb Bates says he asked his students to put away their phones in his English class on Friday. One refused, so he took her phone and she lunged at him. He says she exited the room, knocked on his door, and pepper sprayed him.

“I’ve had students cut my hair, I’ve had students spit on me,” said Bates.

Bates has taught in schools across the country. This is his first year at Antioch High School. A couple of months ago he said another student punched him in the face for taking his district-issued laptop.

During Friday’s incident, he said he was sprayed three different times in the high school hallway. Now, he said he plans to never go back.

“It got in my ear, this whole side of my face, it was just bright red,” Bates said. “It got in my mouth, nose, everything. I was coughing, hacking, it’s a very unpleasant experience.”

He said he tried to call for an administrator after he was first sprayed. No one answered because the school is short-staffed, so administrators were covering for other teachers.

“More happened because they were trying to take on other responsibilities,” Bates said.

He said the problem isn’t the staff at the school, but with those not working there, the students.

“When I looked at the video, I couldn’t see a single student in that class showing concern,” said Bates.

Bates said the school needs money and people should write to their local representatives.

“And I want to know why the district is not making these schools a priority and why the legislator is not funding our education system,” Bates said.

Bates will finish out the year at Antioch High School remotely.

Metro Nashville Police Youth Services are investigating this incident and will determine if charges will be filed. Metro Nashville Public Schools said the student received some sort of discipline according to their handbook.

Metro Nashville Police told WSMV4 they’re continuing to investigate the incident and no charges have been filed at this time.