A Central Unified physical education teacher was arrested Friday after disciplining students by allegedly tightening a jump rope around their necks , the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Deputies responded to Herndon-Barstow Elementary after receiving reports that students were injured on the playground during 64-year-old Peter Samhammer’s class.
Samhammer allegedly placed the rope around several students’ necks and briefly tightened it before letting go, the sheriff’s office said. Several students had marks on their necks and shoulders. The students ranged from 9 to 11 years old.
Central Unified School District issued a statement saying Sammhammer, who lives in Clovis, was immediately placed on administrative leave.
“Student safety is a top priority for the district and as such, we are fully cooperating with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and will continue to do so throughout the course of its investigation,” the statement said.
Samhammer has previously worked as a seasonal employee for Clovis Unified School District as well, but is not currently employed by the district, the sheriff’s office said.
Samhammer was part of the Clovis High School wrestling staff working under Coach Steve Tirapelle in 2011 and 2012, Bee archives show.
He was booked into Fresno County Jail about 4 p.m. on four felony counts of child abuse.
Anyone with more information on Samhammer can contact Fresno sheriff’s Detective Jesse Gloria at 559-600-8217 or Crime Stoppers at 498-STOP.