Kansas Rep. Mark Samsel charged with battery in school-related incident

Titus Wu
Topeka Capital-Journal
Rep. Mark Samsel

Rep. Mark Samsel, R-Wellsville, was charged with misdemeanor battery late Thursday and released on bond, said the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

The incident happened while he was a substitute teacher for Wellsville Unified School District 289 and allegedly involved a physical altercation with a student.

In a letter to parents, Superintendent Ryan Bradbury said Thursday the district is aware of the situation and it's being thoroughly investigated. 

"We are prevented from commenting further on this situation," he said. "This is not due to a lack of transparency but due to privacy laws that prevent us from doing so."

He confirmed to The Topeka Capital-Journal that the involved substitute teacher is no longer working for the district but refused to provide any more details.

Republican leadership in the Kansas House said they only recently learned of the situation.

"We are not yet aware of the details, but are in process of gathering as much information as we can,” it said in a joint statement.

When reached for comment, Samsel didn't provide any, saying, "I need a break."

But he told KSNT that he didn't do anything wrong, saying the whole thing was a staged act.

"Altercation is a strong word. There was no altercation," the lawmaker said. "I'm sure one or two students probably perceived it as one, but it was exactly as we planned it."

He is the second state legislator to be charged with a crime this year. Former Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop was charged earlier in session for drunk driving and eluding the police.

Samsel is in his second term in the Kansas House, representing District 5. He is an attorney and KSHSSA referee.

This story could be updated.