Police say Federico Vargas not only allowed the classroom brawls but also refereed
A California special education teacher has been arrested for allegedly refereeing and allowing “fight club” clashes in his classroom, PEOPLE confirms.
Federico Vargas, 41, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of five counts of endangering a child and 13 counts of contributing to the delinquency of minors.
Charges have not been filed yet, according to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.
“This was not a self-defense class,” Cloverdale Police Sgt. Chris Parker tells PEOPLE. “It is punching each other, fighting until the other person submits.”
Police said they learned about the brawls on March 7 when Cloverdale High School officials contacted them about an alleged fight in Vargas’s classroom. During the investigation, police said investigators discovered that Vargas not only allowed the students to fight but he also refereed the clashes.
“A teacher was engaged in promoting it,” says Parker. The practice, according to Parker, is called “bodying.”
“It is fighting without hitting in the face,” he says.
Parker says “it looks like they made a circle and pushed the desks out of the way.”
One of the bouts was recorded on a student’s phone, he says.
Police said the students in the special education class ranged in age from 15 to 17. The class of 12 contained both female and male students.
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Parker says they discovered multiple students with injuries, one of which required medical treatment.
“It is something you wouldn’t think would occur inside of a classroom,” he says. “I don’t know what lesson he was trying to teach but it is the wrong lesson.”
The fights allegedly occurred on multiple occasions but police aren’t sure exactly when it began.
According to CBS SF, Vargas has been placed on administrative leave.
Vargas was taken into custody on March 9 and booked into Sonoma County Jail. He has since been released and could not be reached for comment. He has a court hearing on March 19.
In a statement to PEOPLE, school officials from the district confirmed, “Last week, the administration at Cloverdale High School and our district office were made aware of concerning allegations. … The information available indicates that the ‘fighting’ occurred during a few class periods over two days last week but again, our investigation is continuing. We have contacted the parents of students in the classroom to begin the process of gathering information essential to the investigation.”