OCALA, Fla. - The Ocala high school teacher involved in the controversial drowning of raccoons with his agriculture class students has retired, Marion County Public School officials said Friday.
The school district was investigating claims that the Forest High School teacher drowned two raccoons and an opossum that were killing chickens with students from his agriculture-science class.
Pictures and video recorded by a student show a raccoon in a metal wire trap, which the teacher and students then lifted into a garbage bin while they filled the bin with water from several hoses.
News 6 is not naming the teacher because he has not officially been charged.
The teacher, who has been with Marion County schools for 31 years, was placed on paid administrative leave Tuesday pending the outcome of an investigation. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Health are also investigating the complaint.
Marion County Public Schools Superintendent Heidi Maier slammed the actions of the teacher and recommended the district fire him.
The teacher submitted his letter of retirement to the district on Thursday.
His decision to retire ends the school district’s investigation. However, the investigations by FWC and the health department continue.
Law enforcement is determining whether this teacher’s actions were criminal or not.
According to the FWC website, raccoons are classified as "nuisance animals," which are still to be euthanized humanely.
The FWC refers to the Guidelines for Euthanasia of Animals, prepared by the American Veterinary Medical Association. According to its latest publication, acceptable forms of euthanizing an animal include a single shot to the head. Unacceptable forms include drowning.
Even after the teacher was removed from the classroom, school board members said they have been inundated with phone calls from all over the U.S.
"They're just appalled. They just think it's horrific," Marion County School Board chair Beth McCall said. "They don't understand how anybody could be so cruel to animals. That all life has value and that this is just unacceptable."
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