A teacher in Central Florida is being investigated after students recorded video purporting to show raccoons being drowned in front of an agricultural science class.
The raccoons were drowned because they had killed several of the school's chickens, a freshman student of Forest High School in Ocala told ABC Orlando affiliate WFTV. Students and staff members raise chickens and other livestock, which reside in a shed behind the school.
Video provided to WFTV by the student shows other students filling a large trash can with water and then placing a cage inside.
The student, who wished to remain anonymous, said the raccoons were put in cages that were then submerged in the water.
In other clips, a raccoon appears to struggle as the cage is lowered into the water.
At least two raccoons were killed, and it took them each several minutes to drown, the student said.
The student's mother said when he got home he was crying, yelling and angry. She said the teacher should have called animal control services instead of killing the raccoons.
"We want people to know he had them in cages, he had them trapped," the teen's mother said. "He could have had somebody come and relocate the animals."
The Marion County School District said in a statement it is investigating the incident, but did not provide further details.
"While law enforcement tells us the teacher may not have done anything illegal, his actions before students are certainly questionable," said Marion County Public Schools spokesman Kevin Christian.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the incident as well, it said in a statement.
"The FWC takes these matters seriously," the statement read.
The teacher, who was not identified, has been placed on paid administrative leave on Tuesday "pending the outcome" of the investigation, Christian said.
A Facebook page for the school's Future Farmers of America alumni defended the teacher, describing him as "a man who would give everything he had to make sure that his children/students are taken care of."
"He has always gone above and beyond his call of duty to ensure that his students had everything they needed. He has spent late nights, weekends and has provided around the clock support for his club and for his school," the statement read. "He is a man of faith and has always provided the wisdom and guidance needed for his students to succeed. He is a supporter of the agriculture industry and the FFA."
The teacher has been the school's Future Farmers of America adviser since 2006, The Ocala Star Banner reported.