Video shows teacher drowning animals in front of class
An agriculture teacher in Florida allegedly drowned two raccoons and an opossum with help from students, school officials and parents said.
Dewie Brewton, who teaches at Forest High School in Ocala, was placed on administrative leave with pay and removed from the classroom “pending the outcome of a district investigation,” Marion County Public Schools officials told the Ocala Star-Banner.
“We received statements that the teacher drowned multiple animals in front of students, and with student participation, because the animals were nuisances to the ag program at the school,” spokesman Kevin Christian said.
One of Brewton’s students who attended Monday’s class came home in tears after the raccoons were drowned and the opossum was later killed “just for sport,” the boy’s mother told WKMG. The critters were thought to have eaten chickens raised by the agriculture class.
“It made me sick,” the mother told the station. “It made me sick to my stomach. It’s terrible. It still does make me sick to my stomach.”
Video footage recorded by the woman’s son shows a raccoon trapped inside a metal cage placed inside a garbage bin that was then filled with water.
“That one’s, like, super, super small,” one girl in the video says of the animals. “That one probably didn’t do anything.”
“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,” the woman said.
Regardless of whether the animals killed the chickens raised by the class, Brewton had no business killing them, she said.
“I don’t think that’s the way to treat any animal,” she said. “They should have trapped the animal and had somebody take them and relocate the animals.”
A spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said an investigation is under way to determine if criminal charges are warranted in the incident. The findings will then be presented to the state attorney’s office, WKMG reports.
Brewton was Forest High School’s Teacher of the Year nominee in 2010, according to the Star-Banner. He has worked as the school’s Future Farmers of America adviser since 2006, according to his biography page on the school’s website.
Some of Brewton’s former students, meanwhile, have defended him as a teacher who has “gone above and beyond his call of duty” to help them.
“He has spent late nights, weekends and has provided around the clock support for his club and for his school,” a post on the Forest High School FFA Alumni page reads. “He is a man of faith and has always provided the wisdom and guidance needed for his students to succeed.”
The group said it was “100% behind” Brewton and asked for everyone involved in the incident to focus on his positive contributions to students.
“The media is going to make this situation escalate to lengths that are unnecessary and we must stand together and focus on the facts,” the post reads. “We must show our support for him in this time of need and show that we are one.”