The teacher at Seattle's South Lake High School was arrested Wednesday and placed on administrative leave. The 17-year-old student, who was in a nurse's office when police arrived, was taken to a hospital.

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A teacher at a South Seattle alternative high school was arrested Wednesday after he allegedly slapped and choked a 17-year-old student, according to Seattle police.

The 44-year-old teacher at South Lake High School has been placed on paid administrative leave, according to Seattle Public Schools. District officials declined to name the man, who has been at the school for 15 years.

Seattle police were called to the school, at 8825 Rainier Ave. S., at noon for a report of the attack, police spokeswoman Renee Witt said.

“The teacher was teaching when the victim and another student were in the back of the classroom talking. He told them to knock it off,” Witt said. The teacher then walked up to the student and confronted him, she said.

“The teacher basically grabbed the student by the neck and choked him out,” Witt said.

When police arrived, the student was in the school nurse’s office. He then was taken to a hospital, police said.

Officers contacted the teacher in the staff lounge. He was taken to the Police Department’s South Precinct for questioning. Witt said the teacher was arrested and released.

In a letter sent Wednesday to families of students, South Lake principal Barbara Moore explained the teacher has been placed on administrative leave “while the Seattle Police Department investigates allegations that he grabbed and slapped a student.”

“This type of action is inexcusable, and I want you to know that we take the safety and security of our students very seriously,” Moore wrote. “This teacher has been directed to stay away from South Lake High School and not have any contact with District students, staff and parents while the investigation occurs.”

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.

Brian M. Rosenthal: 206-464-3195 or brosenthal@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @brianmrosenthal