A Texas high school used cage fights to settle disputes among problem students, internal investigation documents obtained by The Dallas Morning News allege.
The principal and other staff at South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas repeatedly put students in a steel utility cage located in a section of the boys basketball locker room to battle it out — with their bare fists and without head protection, the documents show.
A 2008 investigation within the Dallas school district's Office of Professional Responsibility found that then-principal Donald Moten and other school officials "knew of the practice, allowed it to go on for a time, and failed to report it."
The cage fights happened between 2003 and 2005, according to the district's report.
In one case, a school hall monitor tried to battle a student in the cage. In that instance, Moten broke up the fight, according to the investigation.
But in a separate incident, Moten allegedly told security staff to put two teens who were already fighting with each other in the cage to "let'em duke it out," according to the News.
Contacted by the paper on Wednesday, the former principal denied having knowledge of any cage fighting in the school when he was in charge of it.
"I don't even know what you're talking about," Moten told the News. "That's barbaric. You can't do that at a high school. You can't do that anywhere."
But one middle school counselor, who was fired from his job at South Oak Cliff High and has filed a whistleblower lawsuit, tells a different story.
"It was gladiator-style entertainment for the staff," said Frank Hammond. "They were taking these boys downstairs to fight. And it was sanctioned by the principal and security."
Charges were never brought against Moten or the hall monitors accused of setting up the fights, despite investigators' saying the staff's conduct, "may constitute a criminal violation," The Dallas Morning News reported.
Many of the staff named are still employed at the school, according to the newspaper.
It wasn't clear why the district never pursued criminal charges and the Dallas County district attorney's office said she wouldn't confirm or deny whether a case was ever filed.
The cage fighting was uncovered during an investigation into grade-changing for student athletes that ended up costing the school their 2006 boys state basketball championship, the News said.
Moten resigned in 2008 after the grade-changing investigation ended.