Victor Lopez, Boynton Beach, Florida math teacher fired for placing students in chokeholds, inappropriate comments and behavior at Boca Raton middle school. Firing follows suspension for using yardstick at another school.
A Florida middle school math teacher has been fired for allegedly placing students in chokeholds, using ‘cruel’ nicknames along with having made other inappropriate comments. The ouster comes after the long time educator was suspended earlier this year for taunting and hitting students with a yardstick at another school.
Victor Lopez, 49, of Boynton Beach, was fired from Boca Raton Community Middle School, on Wednesday after an investigation launched in May found he had behaved ‘inappropriately’ with 16 students.
Twelve of the 16 students reported he had engaged in inappropriate physical contact, WPTV reported. Eight out of the 16 students were also reportedly on the receiving end of inappropriate comments or jokes they didn’t find funny.
The educator was also accused of using ‘cruel’ nicknames, such as ‘four-eyes,’ ‘Oompa Loompa,’ and ‘Beavis.’
Lopez told the Palm Beach County School District in an e-mail in June that the only thing that should be questioned ‘is my sarcasm.’
Prior episodes of abusive behavior at another school
‘The difference this year is that I made the conscious effort to use methods that would make sure students felt safe, cared for and that I created an atmosphere where kids really wanted to learn…with an authentic feel to it,’ he wrote, in part.
Of note, Lopez was suspended seven months earlier in February after reportedly hitting a student with a yardstick at another school last year the Palm Beach Post reported.
The teacher started at the school in September, 2021 after having been transferred from nearby Loggers’ Run Middle, after an investigation found that he regularly struck and tapped children with a yardstick.
Authorities had sought charges of simple battery against the teacher, the State Attorney’s Office nevertheless declined to prosecute. In February, the Palm Beach County School Board chose to dole out a 10-day suspension instead. By then Lopez had already transferred to a new school.
The latest investigation against the educator leading to his firing started around September 1 after a student complained to his mother that Lopez had pulled his ear in class in late August, according to The Palm Beach Post.
He also reportedly showed his mother a video of Lopez hitting the student in the arm with a yardstick, the Post reported.
Within days of reporting the incident, the school police were able to identify three other victims who had been hit with a yardstick by Lopez over the course of the year.
‘I only tapped them…’
The student had started recording the interaction with Lopez on his school-issued laptop because he anticipated the slap when he told his teacher hadn’t finished the homework, he told investigators. He said he was embarrassed by the interaction.
The student also told authorities that Lopez often did this and said the yardstick with blue tape on the end was used to hit students.
Lopez was described as ‘aggressively “tapping” [the student] on the inner arm, then immediately “tapping” him a little lighter in the upper arm.’
Another student told investigators that he ran away when he saw the teacher approaching him with a raised ruler because he has ‘seen Lopez hit other students with the ruler and he was scared.’
Another student said Lopez struck him after he translated for Portuguese-speaking students, because ‘Lopez thinks they are socializing.’ The same student also said he was hit twice in the leg with a ruler for answering a question wrong.
The math teacher admitted to investigators that he did use a yardstick in his class, but said he only ‘tapped’ them with it, according to the investigation report.
In another incident, Lopez reportedly flicked the back of a student’s neck in class and then blamed it on another student. When the accused student said it wasn’t him, Lopez said ‘No, it was you,’ stood up and put him in a chokehold.
It is unclear if Lopez plans to appeal the school board’s decision to fire him.