A crisis intervention teacher at an elementary school is accused of punching a 12-year-old student in the head and putting him into a choke hold.

Scott Antwork, 58, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

Prosecutors said the veteran teacher also grabbed the student's right arm and pushed him onto a table during the incident last week at Public School 54 in Queens. As a result, the boy suffered a cut on his chin and neck, and his arm and leg were bruised.

"Such behavior poses a threat to the safety of all those in a classroom," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

But supporters said Antwork was just doing his best to subdue an out-of-control child.

The 20-year veteran has a Master's degree in teaching emotionally disturbed students and has worked at the school for two years, his lawyer said. He spent five years as a crisis intervention teacher at another school.

"Mr. Antwork acted appropriately in trying to defuse this situation, and it's a pity that the authorities blindly made an arrest out of self preservation," said his attorney, Andrew Stoll. "Mr. Antwork and so many teachers like him do excellent work under trying circumstances, and they deserve at least the benefit of the doubt."

Antwork was released on his own recognizance and will appear in court again July 31.