A Northern California high school special education teacher was arrested over the weekend after police said he created a “fight club style atmosphere” in his classroom, encouraging his students to fight each other while refereeing the brawls himself, authorities said.

Federico Vargas, a 41-year-old special education teacher at Cloverdale High School in Sonoma County, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of five counts of endangering a child and 13 counts of contributing to the delinquency of minors, Cloverdale police said.

Authorities were contacted by school officials last Thursday to investigate reports of a classroom fight, and after several interviews, learned that Vargas was letting students fight each other, police said in press release.

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Investigators said that multiple students sustained injuries and one student required medical treatment because of the fighting.

One of the fights refereed by Vargas was captured on a student’s cellphone, police said.

Authorities think the fights occurred during a few class periods over two days last week, but the investigation is continuing, said Cloverdale Unified School District Superintendent Jeremy Decker.

Police said the fights appear to be isolated to Vargas’ classroom.

“We have contacted the parents of students in the special education classroom to begin the process of gathering information essential to the investigation,” Decker said in an email.

Decker said school officials learned about the fights through an employee and said he encouraged all students and staff to speak up if they see or hear anything concerning.

The case has not been sent to the Sonoma County district attorney’s office, according to a spokeswoman for the office.

Vargas, who has worked for the district for eight years, was immediately placed on leave pending the outcome of the investigation, Decker said.

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