Syringa Middle School classroom aide Ettson Arreola, 20, was arrested Friday on nine misdemeanor counts stemming from his alleged involvement in student fights at the school.
He faces four counts of injury to a child, one count of inciting a riot and four counts of encouraging a minor to fight, according to Char Jackson, a spokesperson for the Caldwell Police Department.
Arreola was a full-time classroom aide who was asked to serve as a substitute on Thursday, Jan. 26, when he allegedly encouraged two male and two female students to engage in a physical fight.
When school officials were made aware of this incident Thursday evening, they contacted the police department’s resource officer, who began the investigation that led to Arreola’s arrest.
“During these incidents, Mr. Arreola encouraged the students to fight and even video recorded the fight on an electronic device, which was later shared on social media …,” Jackson reported.
The investigation revealed that Arreola set a timer and encouraged the students to fight for 10 seconds while he recorded it, Jackson wrote in a press release. The students who were involved were not injured, she said.
Nothing in Arreola’s background check caused hiring officials concern because all district employees are fingerprinted and must pass a background check. The school immediately fired Arreola after his arrest.
“As you can imagine, this news is concerning for our students and staff. Over the weekend, we put plans in place so any student directly or indirectly affected would have support from school counselors first thing this morning,” said Jessica Watts, the school district’s spokesperson.
Rex Ingram, Caldwell’s chief of police, added, “This man was entrusted by his community to keep our children safe and provide academic education but he chose to facilitate a fight club in his classroom.”
Syringa serves 650 students. Watts would not comment on whether the school district is reviewing any of its hiring policies or any of the school’s current staff.