A primary school principal pinned a Year 6 student to the ground and held him down with a knee to his back, the WA Industrial Relations Commission was told yesterday.
Former Nollamara primary principal Steven Lockwood is appealing against disciplinary penalties the Education Department imposed last year on allegations he used unnecessary and excessive force against students.
After an inquiry, he was reprimanded, fined and transferred as an assistant principal.
The allegations have not previously been revealed publicly.
Lawyer Damian Matthews, for the department, said that in June 2011 the boy "gasped and struggled to breathe" as Mr Lockwood took the "extraordinary action" of pinning him with his face pressed to the asphalt in full view of other students.
Mr Matthews said Mr Lockwood would argue the student was "like a wild beast about to pounce" and he made a snap decision to prevent the boy possibly harming other children or property or running on to a road.
He said the department would argue the prolonged nature of the restraint was inappropriate.
Testifying via video link, the student said he was involved in an incident with another student when Mr Lockwood grabbed his shirt and they scuffled before he was swept to the ground.
"I ended up on my stomach with a knee in my back," he said. "I was shaking and scared.
"I told him to get off me but he wouldn't listen."
He estimated he was on the ground for 10 to 20 minutes.
Three staff members gave differing accounts, though none saw the incident start. They said they had not seen Mr Lockwood be violent with children before.
Asked if the boy could breathe while held down, school psychologist Anne Stephens said he must have because he swore loudly.
The commission was also told Mr Lockwood punched a Year 7 boy on the upper arm in 2012 when he laughed inappropriately after being sent to the office for misbehaving. "It wasn't that hard but it was enough to make me shocked that a principal would do that to a student," the boy said.
He said he did not complain to anyone because Mr Lockwood was a good principal and he did not want him to get into trouble.
Two staff denied allegations from lawyer Jason Raftos that they resented Mr Lockwood because of changes he made at the school or they disliked him.
The hearing continues.