A Florida agri-science teacher and the advisor of the school’s FFA club, was placed on administrative leave after school officials were told that he had students help him drown wild raccoons during class.
Dewie Brewton, who has worked 34 years on and off for Marion County Public Schools, Ocala, Fla., was suspended with pay this week after school officials learned about the euthanasia.
One of the students captured a 14-second cell phone video of the event which was published by CBS affiliate WKMG. The video showed a group of students filling a tub of water using a hose and later keeping a trapped raccoon submerged.
According to WKMG, two raccoons and an opossum were killed at Forest High school because the animals had been killing chickens the students were raising for class.
The school district said it is investigating the incident, as are two state agencies - but a statement from the school said that "regardless of the investigative outcomes, Superintendent Dr. Heidi Maier is recommending termination."
"Marion County Public Schools is appalled at the actions of an agri-science teacher accused of killing nuisance animals in front of students earlier this week," the statement read. "Marion County's education standards - in fact, Florida's education standards - do not include activities for the destruction of live animals, nuisance or not. While law enforcement determines whether this teacher's actions were legal or not, his actions before students are entirely unacceptable and cause us great concern."
An alumni group for the school’s FFA club posted support for Brewton on Facebook, describing him as a teacher who worked hard for his students and who cared for the agriculture industry.
"We would like to say that we are 100% behind our advisor and everything he does for our children/students. This is a man who would give everything he had to make sure that his children/students are taken care of," the Forest High School FFA Alumni Chapter said. "He has always gone above and beyond his call of duty to ensure that his students had everything they needed. He has spent late nights, weekends and has provided around the clock support for his club and for his school."
The chapter also criticized coverage of the incident, saying the media will "escalate" the situation "to lengths that are unnecessary."
"We must focus on all of the extremely positive and life changing things that this man has done for the people," the group said. "We must show our support for him in this time of need and show that we are one."