MONTVILLE, Conn. (AP) — A school superintendent, principal and assistant principal were arrested for not telling authorities about a student “fight club” at their Connecticut high school, state police said Thursday.
Several organized fights took place inside a math classroom at Montville High School during school hours with the encouragement of a substitute teacher, according to the police investigation. Many of the “slap boxing” fights were video recorded by students and shown to other students.
The former substitute teacher, Ryan Fish, was arrested last week and charged with overseeing the “fight club.” Fish, 23, has pleaded not guilty to charges including reckless endangerment and risk of injury to a minor. Fish was fired from the school in October, but police were not notified until two months later.
State police said Thursday that Montville Superintendent Brian Levesque, Montville High School Principal Jeffrey Theodoss and Assistant Principal Tatiana Patten are all charged with failing to report abuse.
Levesque and Theodoss did not immediately return messages left at their homes. A working number for Patten could not immediately be located.
The three administrators have been placed on leave pending the outcome of the police investigation and an internal school probe, Assistant Superintendent Laurie Pallin said.
“The incident that occurred in a high school classroom was unacceptable but it is an exception to how Montville Public Schools operate — it does not illustrate the priority we place on student safety,” Pallin said in a prepared statement.
The investigation began in December after a social worker said a 15-year-old student had appeared in court with signs of having been traumatized, according to a warrant. The teen said three other students had beaten him at school.
Patten told investigators in January that a guidance counselor told her on Oct. 6 that an anonymous parent reported a “slap boxing” incident with Fish’s involvement but at the time there was no evidence that anything happened. Two days later, Theodoss sent her an email with a video. Patten said she received a text message from Theodoss instructing her not to say anything to anyone, according to a police warrant.
Theodoss said he informed Levesque of a video showing two boys fighting and asked whether police should be notified, and Levesque said “no,” according to the warrant. In an interview with police, Levesque said he did not think about contacting police because he felt the issue was resolved after he fired Fish for failing to protect the safety of students and the students involved in the fight were disciplined.
“Levesque stated that he did not think it was criminal and thought it was a one time incident and thought that it was maybe a mistake,” the officer wrote.
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