A sixth grade teacher is accused of letting students fight in her class, going as far as to essentially referee them and calling two kids out of other classes for a brawl.
Angel Drew Footman, 23, faces four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Deputies in Leon County, Florida, claim they were able to find video recordings of three different tussles.
According to a partially redacted probable cause affidavit, the school resource deputy got a report on March 24 of Footman letting students fight each other in her classroom “during school hours on several occasions.” School officials, including the principal, learned of this after several parents discovered videos of these brawls.
Deputies claimed to find four different videos of three separate fights. The first video showed a fight on March 22 between two girls. The second showed another fight involving kids whose identities were completely redacted. Two other videos showed a fight on March 23 between two girls.
“In the videos, Footman was observed standing nearby or sitting on a desk while the students engaged in these physical altercations,” deputies wrote.
A female voice was allegedly heard on the video saying things like “no screaming, no nothing,” and “stop pulling hair,” during the fights. The principal, dean of students, and assistant principal identified this as Footman, authorities said.
“Footman only tells the students to ‘break it up’ after the fight went on for a brief period,” deputies wrote.
She allegedly did not intervene or try to stop the fights, did not use a phone to call for help, and did not leave class to find any security, according to the affidavit.
Investigators said they spoke to students with parents’ permission and also received written statements from the kids.
“Most notably, I interviewed the 6th grade students who were positively identified as the subjects fighting in the videos,” the affidavit said. “All four of the females, [redacted], admitted their participation in the fights. They confirmed these fights were pre-planned (not random outbursts) and explained that Footman (who they all have as a teacher) allowed the fights to take place in her classroom. The fighters informed me that Footman asked them whether they wanted to have a ‘friendly fade’ before the fights began, she made statements such as ’30 seconds, no screaming, no yelling, no phones,’ and she even asked two of the girls ([redacted]) whether they wanted to come back during her 6th period planning period to ‘run it back’ (fight again).”
School records allegedly show that Footman never reported the fights to administration. According to deputies, the teacher’s most recent student referral was on March 8, and it was unrelated to students fighting.
Authorities used class rosters to confirm that two of the girls were called out of other classes to participate in the fights, as neither girl was supposed to be in Footman’s class when the fights happened.
The affidavit notes that Footman agreed to a formal interview with investigating deputies. During this interview, after Footman had already received her Miranda rights, the teacher allegedly admitted the fights happened in her classroom, but she denied having any part in planning them. She denied calling students out of classes to fight, and suggested one of her students must have called the other classes. Asked why she did not step in, she said the fights happened too fast for her to do anything.
“When I asked her why she didn’t call anyone for help, she initially claimed her desk phone wasn’t working (she later corrected this and told me it was) but admitted she should have used her cellphone to call someone,” the affidavit stated. “At one point in our interview, Footman stated outright that she knows she has poor classroom management skills.”
Authorities redacted the school’s name from the probable cause affidavit, but named it in a press statement as Griffin Middle School. The school did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s request for comment.
Footman turned herself in to the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office on Friday, authorities said.
The investigation is ongoing. Leon County deputies ask that anyone with information call their Special Investigations Unit at 850-606-3300. You can use the FortifyFL app to submit anonymous, school-related tips or call 850-922-KIDS.
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