Mesquite ISD fired a Kimbrough Middle School substitute teacher after a leaked video showed her encouraging students to fight each other during class.
A student in the class filmed Natally Garcia—who started working at the district on March 6—facilitating one-on-one fights between at least four 12- to 13-year-olds last week.
According to Mesquite ISD, the 24-year-old substitute teacher outlined rules for the fights, posted one student at the door as a lookout, and told students to put away their cell phones.
The student who filmed the video reported that Garcia arranged students’ desks to give them enough room to fight and kept track of “rounds,” even announcing “30 seconds” before two students began fighting.
Beatriz Martinez, whose daughter recorded the event, told WFAA-TV that some students were bleeding when they left the classroom.
“I was devastated,” said Martinez. “I couldn’t watch the full video. I had to stop it multiple times because I didn’t think it was real. I was like, this must be a prank. This is not real.”
After video of the incident surfaced, Mesquite ISD issued a statement calling Garcia’s actions “appalling and intolerable,” and informed parents that she had been fired and is not eligible for rehire in any capacity.
The district also contacted the parents of all students involved and further condemned Garcia.
“As educators, our hearts are heavy knowing that an individual entrusted with the supervision and care of our students could behave in this manner, and we share the disgust that the families of students in this class must feel,” said district administrators.
Martinez said her daughter has received death threats from Kimbrough Middle School students for reporting the incident.
“I know my daughter. I know that she’s a sweet girl,” said Martinez. “And to just know that she’s getting death threats … I hate that.”
Although Mesquite ISD fired Garcia, Martinez called on the district to better screen substitutes.
“Even if they’re short-staffed, take extra precautions for the substitute teachers,” said Martinez. “Is anybody monitoring them and their behaviors?”
This is not Mesquite ISD’s first scandal.
Police arrested a teacher’s aide from North Mesquite High School last year after he was accused of engaging in inappropriate relationships with students. Authorities charged Bryan Garcia, 22, with two counts of sexual assault of a child and one count of indecency with a child.
As of publication, Mesquite ISD reported Garcia to law enforcement officials. The Mesquite Police Department is investigating the incident, but there are no charges or arrests.
Texas Scorecard has reported on dozens of other “bad apples” in the Texas education system who are facing criminal charges for committing crimes against students.