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Teacher should be fired for drowning raccoons, superintendent says

MARION COUNTY, Fla. -- A superintendent has condemned the actions of a Florida teacher accused of drowning wild animals in a garbage can during class, and recommended the school district fire him, CBS Orlando affiliate WKMG reports. Marion County Public Schools Superintendent Heidi Maier said the district is "appalled" by the teacher's actions.

"Marion County's education standards – in fact, Florida's education standards -- do not include activities for the destruction of live animals, nuisance or not," Marion County Public Schools said in a statement.  

The agriculture science teacher at Forest High School in Ocala, Florida, was placed on paid leave Tuesday after a student's mother said her son was made to stand with his fellow high school classmates this week and drown two raccoons and an opossum, WKMG reported. 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.

The mother who spoke to the station said a raccoon ate a chicken that students at the school 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.  

"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.

She said two raccoons were killed Monday and that an opossum found later was killed "just for sport," WKMG reported. 

The station did not name the teacher because he was not officially charged. On Wednesday, Forest High School's FAA alumni posted a message of support for the teacher, who has been with the school for decades.

"We would like to say that we are 100% behind our advisor and everything he does for our children/students," the statement said. "This is a man who would give everything he had to make sure that his children/students are taken care of. He has always gone above and beyond his call of duty to ensure that his students had everything they needed."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is looking into how the raccoons were killed, according to a spokesman, and the Florida Department of Health is investigating.

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