MARION COUNTY, Fla. — Update: The Marion County public schools superintendent has recommended the teacher be fired.
A teacher accused of drowning at least two raccoons during a science class at Marion County's Forest High School Monday has been placed on paid administrative leave.
A student, who provided Channel 9 with graphic video of the incident, said some students were left with nightmares after Dewie Brewton's sixth-period agricultural science class.
"My friend said that the class before that, they were (putting) the water in the buckets," said the freshman student, who asked to not be identified.
The raccoons had killed several chickens, the student said.
Students and staff members raise chickens and other livestock, which are housed in a shed behind the school.
The student said it took the raccoons several minutes to drown.
"They finally took the cage out of the water, and they trapped it into another smaller cage, where the top of the cage would go down into the water," the student said. "And that's how they killed the second one."
The student was crying, yelling and angry when he returned home from school. His parents weren't happy either.
"We want people to know he had them in cages, he had them trapped," the boy's mother said. "He could have had somebody come and relocate the animals."
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers said they're still investigating the drownings and the state attorney's office will determine if charges will be filed.
FWC said it's legal to kill nuisance animals, but there are specific rules about humanely killing them.
"While law enforcement tells us the teacher may not have done anything illegal, his actions before students are certainly questionable," the Marion County Public Schools said in a statement Tuesday.
The student said Brewton asked students to not record the drownings, but many of them did.
Channel 9 on Wednesday obtained Brewton's personnel file, which said he has been employed by the district for more than 30 years and has received much praise during that time. He hasn't had any previous issues.
No one answered when Channel 9's Myrt Price traveled to Brewton's Gainesville home Wednesday. He hung up when Price called him.
MCPS released another statement Wednesday:
"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.
"While the district conducts its own investigation, we are now aware two additional agencies are also investigating -- the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Health. Regardless of the investigative outcomes, Superintendent Dr. Heidi Maier is recommending termination.
"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.
"The teacher involved remains on administrative leave while the district, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Florida Department of Health each conduct separate investigations.
"Until those investigations are complete, no further details can be officially released."
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