A Florida teacher facilitated classroom fights among girls at her middle school, even announcing rules and warning students not to pull hair, authorities in Tallahassee said Monday.
Angel Drew Footman, 23, is charged with four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to court documents in Leon County. Arraignment was scheduled for May 4, court records show.
It wasn’t clear whether she had an attorney. The public defender’s office for the area did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
An affidavit filed to support the arrest warrant for Footman, which was issued Thursday, said she denied having organized the fights at Griffin Middle School in Tallahassee.
The author of the document, Sheriff’s Detective Hannah Parry, wrote that Footman offered this explanation: “Footman stated outright that she knows she has poor classroom management skills.”
Footman was booked into jail Friday after she turned herself in to deputies in neighboring Gadsden County, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Monday. She was released two hours later, according to Gadsden County inmate records.
The affidavit is said to be based on numerous interviews with faculty members and students, including girls involved in the fights, some of whom went to Footman’s sixth grade classroom from other classes to participate, the document stated.
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All the girls had had Footman as a teacher at some point, the affidavit said. Some “were called out of other classes to go engage in these fights,” it said.
Footman denied calling the girls out of those rooms, it said.
Two fights took place March 22 and one on March 23, the document says. They involved six girls who paired off, it said. No one reported being injured.
Videos captured a voice that school administrators said was Footman’s, the detective wrote. The voice appeared to present rules: “30 seconds, no screaming, no yelling, no phones.”
She also intervened, at least verbally, a few times, the document said. Footman is alleged to have said at one point, “Stop pulling hair.” At another point on the videos, the voice said, “Break it up.”
A school resource deputy was aware of the altercations on the second day of fighting, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office said, and Parry, the detective, was on campus the next day to investigate, she said in the affidavit.
Participants told her the fights were planned, it said. The girls did not say Footman organized them, but they did seem to suggest she was helpful, the affidavit said. She is alleged to have asked, for example, whether they wanted “friendly fade” confrontations, according to the affidavit.
The term refers to fights among friends who agree to remain friends afterward.
Parry alleged Footman encouraged delinquency in the girls by failing to intervene most of the time, failing to report the fighting to superiors and failing to let parents know.
The Leon County Sheriff’s Office credited parents with taking action.
“LCSO appreciates the diligent parents and others for reporting the videos to administrators,” it said in its statement.