Substitute Teacher Arrested for Starting Student ‘Fight Club’
Apparently a fan of the 1999 Edward Norton, Brad Pitt film, Fight Club, substitute math teacher, Ryan Fish, thought it was a great idea to supervise his very own student “fight club.” He taped fights between freshmen students at Montville High School in Connecticut, which according to the arrest warrant affidavit shows “full force” open hand strikes between the teens, at least one of whom did not appear to be a willing participant. The videos also portray Fish encouraging the fights and instructing the students to move “away from the door.” One shows the substitute teacher separating two boys with outstretched arms. Then he moves back “while thrusting his hands down” and smiling and laughing to commence the fight. In another incident, a victim is vomiting, and Fish encourages him to start fighting again after he stops.
A 15-year-old student in Fish’s class eventually came forwarded and alerted a social worker at the school about being beaten in class. The Montville Police Department started investigating the alleged “fight club” last December after the student reported feeling traumatized after being robbed and beaten.
By the time this report was made, however, the teacher had already been terminated. School administrators let Fish go the same day they learned about the fights, but superintendent Brian Levesque said that he didn’t notify the police about Fish because he felt it was a one-time incident that didn’t require mandatory reporting. Levesque indicated he understood the frustration that, ”we didn’t notify them of this so-called ‘student slapping horseplay’ in a timely fashion.” He added, however, “I took immediate action in firing the substitute teacher that allowed this to happen…At the time, based on the initial video that I viewed and the information I was provided, I didn’t feel that this was a law enforcement matter. Had I known then, what I know now, yes, I should have contacted police.”
The 23-year-old teacher (who was only 22 at the time) told officers the fights started out with the students just messing around but had quickly grown more serious. He reported he felt the students were simply being “rambunctious” and getting “their energy out,” although he added, “I will admit that I did, at one point, egg them on.” Fish told investigators there were a total of four fights that occurred in his classroom during school hours between September and October 2017. Fish also allegedly described himself as an “idiot” and “immature” during the interview. He said, “The truth is, I’m an idiot and wanted to befriend them…I just try to be the teacher that kids could come to and actually express themselves and actually work through their issues. Kind of have a social thing.”
Fish reportedly told students stories about smoking marijuana and taking other drugs, let students draw inappropriate pictures on the whiteboard time and again and shared his Snapchat address with the class. He was arrested on two counts of risk of injury to a child, four counts of reckless endangerment and one count of breach of peace and has pleaded not guilty on all counts.