A strange thing happened when "life safety" teacher Viktor Sadlinsky was caught on video smacking his high-school students in the Russian village of Borovsky: He received an outpouring of sympathy.
Parents and students at School No. 2 in Borovsky, a suburb of regional capital Tyumen in western Siberia, staged rallies in support of the first-year teacher
Petitions were launched describing him as "a worthy teacher and mentor.". And memes like "I am Sadlinsky" and "Bring back Sadlinsky" popped up on social media.
Vowing not to give in, Sadlinsky sued to get his job back.
"We cannot bring rods to school. Times are different," regional education department head Olga Butorina told parents on October 11, a day after the video emerged and Sadlinsky was fired.
"But you have to!" the crowd responded, according to the regional news outlet 72.ru. "It is necessary!"
Educators across the board -- from the school, to the Tyumen region, to the federal authorities -- had serious concerns about what was captured on camera during Sadlinsky's Basic Life Safety class and posted to social media on October 10.
"Who is special here? Are you morons or have you just not gotten [punished] in a long time?" Sadlinsky, 30, can be heard shouting as he walks between rows of desks, striking multiple pupils.
"Are you special?" he asks one student as he grabs him around the neck. "Are you special?" he asks another as he jerks his head back violently.
Sadlinsky was fired the same day the video was posted on a VK page devoted to life in Borovsky. But while the local school district quickly issued a statement in which it expressed its "outrage" over the incident, announced that a psychologist was working with the students, and said that the school principal had apologized, some in the community suggested that the kids got what was coming to them.
"The class in which the incident occurred was uncontrollable, there are hooligans there," one unidentified parent whose child had studied under Sadlinsky told 72.ru during a rally outside the school on October 11. "Many teachers don't want to have them in their class, but what should they do?"
During an open meeting later that day with school and regional administrators on October 11, the deputy head of a local organization that advocates for what it calls "traditional family values" reportedly blamed the incident on the adoption of "Western" methods of dealing with schoolchildren.
"The child can do anything, but the teacher is powerless," Konstantin Shestakov told the meeting, according to the website. "We are raising moral freaks."
Shestakov, seated next to Sadlinsky, expounded on his arguments in a video posted to the Borovsky-centered VK page on October 21, prompting more comments about how to deal with unruly students.
"I'm personally for the school education that existed earlier, before 2000," wrote a young mother identified as Lyubov Shirshova. "We went to school, we were afraid of teachers, we respected them! We knew the rules of conduct during lessons, with elders, with older people. In this video, it was said that the children were told about their rights. What for?!"
Sadlinsky has said little publicly about the incident other than to say that he was provoked -- the students reportedly were playing music on a mobile phone and were speaking loudly in class -- and snapped.
But he has also insisted that he did not deserve to lose his job, telling the news agency Tyumen Pro from the beginning that he hoped to return to his job.
His arguments are scheduled to be heard in district court on November 25.