An investigation is underway after a teacher at an Ocala high school was accused of drowning wild animals in a garbage can while students watched and assisted, CBS Orlando affiliate WKMG reports.
A Ocala mother said her son was made to stand with his fellow high school classmates this week and drown two raccoons and an opossum.
“It made me sick. It made me sick to my stomach,” said the mother, who asked to remain anonymous.
The woman said one raccoon ate a chicken that students at Forest High school in Ocala, Florida, were raising. The teacher then caught raccoons in cages, “took the cages, filled up large trash cans full of water, and had the children drown the raccoons in the cages inside the water, inside the trash cans,” she said.
Pictures and video taken by the student show a raccoon in a metal trap, which the teacher and students lifted into a garbage bin while it filled up with hose water, WKMG reported. One video shows the tip of a raccoon’s snout sticking out just above the surface of the water.
“When the raccoons tried to come up for air they had metal rods and they held them down with metal rods and when the raccoon would try to pop its head up they held water hoses in its face to drown it,” said the mother, who said her son came home from school in tears after the incident, the station reported.
She said two raccoons were killed Monday and that an opossum found later was killed “just for sport,” WKMG reports.
The teacher of the agriculture class was placed on paid leave Tuesday. Marion County Public Schools officials said they are investigating.
“While law enforcement tells us the teacher did not do anything illegal, his actions before students are certainly questionable,” a spokesperson said. “Until our investigation is complete, I cannot share further details. The district is determining the status of the teacher at this moment.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is looking into how the raccoons were killed, according to a spokesman. Those findings will be presented to officials with the state attorney’s office, who will decide if criminal charges are appropriate.
In March, a junior high biology teacher in Idaho reportedly fed a puppy to a snapping turtle in front of students.