Todd Whitmire, Principal of Pittsburg High School, Shown Restraining Student in Viral Photo

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
October 11, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

Todd Whitmire, the principal of the Pittsburgh High School in California, appears to have been caught choking a student in a photo of a school fight posted to Facebook and Instagram.

After the photo was shared, 12 students were suspended.

But Whitmire told the Constra Costa Times that it wasn’t the sharing of the photo that got the students suspended. It was the comments added to the photo, which he said was cyberbullying.

Some of the comments derided the female student seen in the photo.

Whitmire intervened in a fight between two ninth-graders. He says the photo distorts what happened, and that he didn’t choke her.

“It certainly is not a description of what actually happened,” he said, reported KSDK

“I had separated her and she began struggling and I was pushing her away to get her away from the area and she fell down,” he said.

I think the disappointing aspect of it is the comments that associate the postings, ranging from racist comments to derogatory comments,” said Whitmire.

10 students were suspended for sharing the photo and adding demeaning comments and captions, which were equivalent to cyberbullying.

Also, the two girls who got in the fight were suspended. 

An unidentified student posted the photo online. 

Dorothy Epps, associate superintendent for the Pittsburg Unified School District, said that the posted comments were inappropriate and the photo “didn’t tell the whole story. We we’re concerned about the students’ safety; there was a fight going on and the principal intervened.”

Pittsburg police had arrived at the school prior to the fight after getting a tip that a fight was planned at lunch.

Lt. Ron Raman said that The principal tried to pull a student away and she fell and he fell down with her.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.