Teacher Allegedly Led 'Fight Club' & Got Special Ed Students to Beat Each Other Up

A blue sign in front of a school building reads

A story out of Sonoma County, California, this week is almost too shocking to believe -- and yet, police are standing by the allegations. Frederico Vargas, a special education teacher at Cloverdale High School, is accused of allowing Fight Club-style matches during class that got so intense, they even left some students injured. 

  • Another teacher eventually caught wind of what was going on and immediately reported the incident, which sickened administrators.

    "It hit me in the gut," Jeremy Decker, superintendent of the Cloverdale School District, told ABC 7. "It hurts me to know that potentially some of our students in this town were placed in a situation that was unsafe, based on the allegation."

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  • Vargas is accused of refereeing the fights, which police say is confirmed by cell phone footage taken by at least one student.

    Luckily, police believe the mixed martial arts-style fights were limited to Vargas' classroom and only occurred during a few class periods over twos days last week, but still -- even that news is alarming.

    Cloverdale Unified School District Superintendent Jeremy Decker told the Los Angeles Times that an investigation is ongoing into the background of both incidents.

    “We have contacted the parents of students in the special education classroom to begin the process of gathering information essential to the investigation,” Decker shared in an email to the newspaper.

  • Shockingly, this isn't the only story of its kind to make headlines in the last year.

    In April 2018, a substitute teacher in Connecticut was also accused of funning a "fight club" in his classroom. Ryan Fish, 23, allowed students to "battle it out" in class while recording the matches on their cell phones, according to USA Today. It wasn't reported to police until December, when a social worker went to police stating that a 15-year-old student from the class was traumatized after being robbed and beaten by his classmates.

    Fish's defense? “The truth is, I’m an idiot and wanted to befriend them," he reportedly told investigators in an affidavit.

    The price of that "friendship" turned out to be pretty costly: Fish was hit with two counts of risk of injury to a child, four counts of reckless endangerment, and one count of breach of peace.

    Even more disturbing was an incident in October, in which two daycare workers in St. Louis, Missouri, allegedly encouraged preschoolers to engage in what was later dubbed a "toddler fight club." iPad footage of the incident later surfaced and circulated around the Internet, where it shocked many viewers and appalled parents of the preschoolers. The two workers were later fired for their actions.

  • As for the Cloverdale case, the district has since handed the case over to police, who arrested Vargas on several charges.

    Vargas, an eight-year veteran of the school district, had been placed on paid administrative leave since the school began its investigation last week. But on Saturday, the 41-year-old was arrested on suspicion of five counts of endangering a child and 13 counts of contributing to the delinquency of minors, according to People.

    “This was not a self-defense class,” Cloverdale Police Sgt. Chris Parker said. “It is punching each other, fighting until the other person submits.”

    The students involved are, by all accounts, now safe, though two did suffer injuries as a result of the fights, and one required medical attention.