A Florida teacher is being investigated after parents said he had students participate in the alleged drowning of two wild raccoons and an opossum at school on Monday, May 14.
A 14-second video published by ClickOrlando shows a group of students filling a tub of water using a hose and later keeping a trapped raccoon submerged. A mother told the TV station that her son, who shot the video, came home upset about what happened to the raccoons, including the one seen in the video, inside a metal wire trap.
The animals had reportedly been killing chickens that the students were raising for class.
The teacher, Dewie Brewton, was placed on paid administrative leave with pay Tuesday while the school investigates, said Kevin Christian, spokesman for Marion County Public Schools. “Marion County’s education standards—in fact, Florida’s education standards—do not include activities for the destruction of live animals, nuisance or not,” the statement said.
Christian said he couldn’t comment further, saying only that Brewton was placed on leave as part of the standard protocol. He also said that district officials did not have previous problems with Brewton in the 34 years he has worked on and off for the district.
The superintendent of the district, Dr. Heidi Maier, has expressed a desire to see the teacher fired and both the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Health have opened independent investigations into the incident.
But the high school alumni group is standing behind the teacher and his actions. Forest High School’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) Alumni released a statement on Facebook defending Brewton, describing him as a “man of faith” and blaming the media for reporting on the incident.
The investigation is ongoing with more details to come.