MESQUITE, TX – A substitute teacher in Texas is in police custody after video surfaced of her setting up and encouraging violent student fistfights in her middle school classroom, according to the Mesquite Police Department.
Natally Garcia, 24, was arrested on four counts of endangering a child after authorities viewed the video of the alleged incident, which took place at Kimbrough Middle School in Mesquite, Texas, on April 12, at which time police say that the teacher put four of her students in danger of suffering serious bodily injury through her actions.
Authorities say that Garcia cleared out space in the middle of her classroom for the 12-and 13-year-old children to fight each other, and set up rules for them to abide by; she even reportedly went so far as to assign students to stand watch the door in case any other teachers came by.
“Definitely trying to conceal her actions and actions that were going on in the class,” said police Lt. Brandon Ricketts.
Reports indicate that at least four students were depicted fighting in the video, and that Garcia at one point could be heard saying that there were “30 seconds” before a round of fisticuffs was to begin. At certain points in the video a timer could be heard going off, as if signaling the end of a round of fighting.
One of the students secretly recorded the incident on their cell phone; the child’s mother, Betty Martinez, said her offspring recorded the fighting because they were frightened, and that she was unable to believe what she was watching when she finally saw the video of herself.
“I thought it was a joke,” she said. “I didn’t think it was real. My brain couldn’t comprehend what was going on, right?”
Martinez Noted that her child has since received threats for having recorded the video from fellow students.
In addition to being arrested, the Mesquite Independent School District announced that Garcia – who had only been working there for a month – had been fired.
“Her actions are appalling and intolerable,” the school district said. “We share the disgust that the families of students in this class must feel.”