Accused hammer-throwing teacher issued summons

Lafayette High School welding teacher Gene Daigle admits tossing a hammer over a teen’s head, but said he had grown tired of the student’s antics in his class that day and did it only to get his attention.

“He got in my face,” said Daigle, who has taught students wage-earning trades in public and private schools for 46 years. “This continued and continued and continued. … I made a mistake throwing the hammer, but it was to get his attention.”

Lafayette police on Friday issued Daigle, a 67-year-old Church Point resident, a misdemeanor summons for aggravated assault for the May 3 incident in which no one was hurt, Lafayette police Cpl. Paul Mouton said.

Mouton said the Police Department will turn over a report of its investigation of the incident to prosecutors in Lafayette City Court.

Daigle was placed on administrative leave with pay after the incident, said Angela Morrison, Lafayette Parish School System director of community collaborations and partnerships.

“As soon as we get the results of the police investigation, steps will be taken based on what the findings are,” Morrison said.

In addition to teaching in Lafayette, Daigle is a member of the Acadia Parish School Board.

Daigle said the majority of students in one of his welding classes on Dec. 3, ranging in age from 15 to 19, refused to complete a project so he kept them in class. One of them was a “second-year freshman,” Daigle said.

“One young man began cutting up. Very badly. He got on the floor, he went in and out of the bathroom about four or five times,” Daigle said.

Then the boy, who was not named by police, school district officials or Daigle, got into his teacher’s face before getting on his hands and knees and retreating behind a welding table, Daigle said.

“I tossed the hammer over the table to get his attention,” Daigle said. “… I had no intention of striking him.”

Daigle has been employed since 2007 at Lafayette High School, the school district’s largest high school, with more than 2,400 students, said Morrison, with the Lafayette school district.

Daigle said he’s been an agriculture teacher for 47 years. He said he taught for most of those years in public school system in Acadia Parish and at Notre Dame High School in Crowley, a Catholic school.

He said he took the job at Lafayette High to beef up that school’s welding program. Daigle said he’s taught other courses through the years, such as small engine repair and electronics.

At 67, he said, he’s not ready to quit teaching, he said.

“I really don’t have anything else to do,” Daigle said. “I don’t golf. I don’t fish. I don’t hunt. I love to teach.”

Lafayette High Principal Patrick Leonard did not return a message seeking comment left on his cellphone.