Sonoma County teacher allegedly allowed classroom 'fight club'

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Associated Press

A Northern California high school teacher allowed multiple "fight club"-type brawls during school hours in his classroom of a dozen students, authorities said Tuesday. 

Federico Vargas, a 41-year-old special education teacher at Cloverdale High School in Sonoma County, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of five counts of endangering a child and 13 counts of contributing to the delinquency of minors.

Cloverdale Police Sgt. Chris Parker said there were multiple fights on different days, with Vargas refereeing some of the mixed-martial arts type fighting. He said multiple students were injured, including one who needed medical attention. 

"They weren't using weapons or anything," Parker said. 

Vargas, who posted bail, could not be reached for comment. An email to his school address was returned as undeliverable, and it was not known if he had retained an attorney.  

Vargas had one classroom of a dozen boys and girls for the entire school day, Parker said. 

Jeremy Decker, superintendent of the Cloverdale Unified School District, said Tuesday they placed Vargas on leave as soon as they heard of alleged fighting from a staff member. Decker told KTVU "the safety of our students is the most important thing- violence of any kind won't be tolerated on campus."

He said the fighting happened over two days last week. The district is still investigating.

"Personally, it rocks me to my core, knowing that my number one job as an educator, all of our jobs as educators, is to make sure kids have a safe place to learn at school," Decker said.

"To think we may not have provided a safe space hurts me," he said. 

Vargas is a special education teacher who has been with the school for eight years, Decker said.