MONTVILLE, Conn. – A former substitute teacher was arrested Thursday for starting a "fight club" at a Connecticut high school, according to police.
Instead of supervising Montville High School students as they studied, 23-year-old Ryan Fish is accused of encouraging students in his class to fight while others watched.
Fish was arraigned in Norwich Superior Court Thursday on four counts of second-degree reckless endangerment, two counts of risk of injury to a minor and one count of breach of peace, according to the Hartford Courant.
“I didn’t realize what was happening at the time,” said Ryan Fish. “I didn’t have the training to know what was going on.”
State police believe otherwise.
“He’s not a certified teacher,” said Montville Resident State Trooper Sargent Mark Juhola. “It bothers me that so many teachers work so hard to get where they are and that this wasn’t a teacher but he was in that role.”
Juhola said Fish oversaw at least three scheduled fights last October involving five male students ages 14 to 16 .
Montville police began investigating after an injured student told a social worker he’d been beaten and robbed at school.
Police said cellphone video shows Fish encouraging the students and moving items out of the way so the teenagers could continue fighting.
After being confronted about the fighting on October 10, 2017, police said Fish told the principal that “boys will be boys.”
Montville Public Schools Superintendent Brian Levesque fired Fish later that day.
But Sgt. Juhola said school officials never contacted police and only acknowledged the incident during the police investigation.
“Anytime a student is put in any type of injurious situation they need to contact the police department,” Juhola said.
Fish told WTIC that he was wrong, and was just trying to be friends with the students.
“I am so sorry. To be perfectly honest, I was just trying to reach the kids. I thought these kids were just being rambunctious; I just thought they needed an out."
Students also told police Fish allowed them to draw lewd photos on the classroom board and admitted to doing drugs.
Fish was released on a promise to appear and is due back in court on May 8.