A high school special education teacher in Northern California has been arrested for what police describe as a “fight-club style atmosphere” in his classroom. Federico Vargas, 41, allegedly encouraged his students at Cloverdale High School to fight one another, as he refereed the brawls.
Vargas was taken into custody on Saturday on suspicion of five counts of endangering a child and 13 counts of contributing to the delinquency of minors, according to Cloverdale police.
In a press release, police said that they were called in by school officials last Thursday to investigate reports of a fight in the classroom. After conducting a number of interviews, they concluded that Vargas was allowing students to fight each other, with one of the fights being captured on video by another student’s cell phone. As a result, multiple students sustained injuries and one required medical treatment, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Police believe the “fight club” occurred during two days last week, and consider it to be an isolated incident in Vargas’s classroom.
Cloverdale Unified School District superintendent Jeremy Decker also said that Vargas, who has been with the school district for eight years, was immediately placed on leave during the ongoing investigation. Decker released the following statement to Yahoo Lifestyle: “Last week, the administration at Cloverdale High School and our district office were made aware of concerning allegations that a teacher may have been encouraging students to engage in ‘fighting’ in class, and I want to assure our school community that the employee was immediately placed on leave pending the outcome of our investigation. The information available indicates that the ‘fighting’ occurred during a few class periods over two days last week but again, our investigation is continuing.”
He continues: “We have contacted the parents of students in the classroom to begin the process of gathering information essential to the investigation. I can confirm that we learned about this situation through an employee, and this allows me to stress the importance of encouraging all students and staff to always speak up if ever they see or hear something concerning.”
Decker added that the school is now working with law enforcement “to ensure that a complete investigation is conducted.” He added, “I cannot offer additional details at this time, as I must protect the fidelity of the investigation, but I do assure everyone that our ultimate action will be based on facts and the law.”
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