Florida

School just started — and two people are already in trouble. They’re teachers

Two Jacksonville teachers have landed themselves in hot water. One refused to call a transgender student by her requested pronouns while the other scolded students for not standing for the national anthem.
Two Jacksonville teachers have landed themselves in hot water. One refused to call a transgender student by her requested pronouns while the other scolded students for not standing for the national anthem. Tri-City Herald

It seems the teachers are the ones being called into the principal’s office.

Classes began in Jacksonville on Monday, and already two faculty members are in trouble.

According to reports, one teacher refused to call a transgender student by her requested pronoun. And another criticized his class for not standing for the national anthem.

Duval County Public School officials are already doing damage control after reports of two separate incidents in the first week of the classes.

First Coast News reported Wednesday that a math teacher at Sandalwood Senior High School wouldn’t refer to a transgender student by her proper pronouns. The teacher, Thomas Caggiano, told the student to “change classes” if she was unhappy, according to emails obtained by First Coast.

“It was unfortunate that it happened and is not consistent with our expectations,” school district spokeswoman Laureen Ricks told the Miami Herald in an email. “However, it has served as a teachable moment and allowed for constructive dialogue among our school community.”

Later that day, an unidentified First Coast High School teacher was removed due to a hand-written message on his whiteboard that scolded students who refused to stand for the national anthem. His message, which began circulating on social media Wednesday evening, referenced slavery, President Barack Obama and Duval schools’ black superintendent as evidence of this country’s progress.

“I believe classrooms provide the perfect place to have insightful and thought-provoking discussions about patriotic expressions and civil liberty,” First Coast High Principal Justin Fluent said in a statement to the Herald. “However, this must be done in a productive and respectful way, and in accordance with law and school board policy.”

The Duval school district has strict guidelines concerning both issues.

A district policy guide states that school staff must “use pronouns and names consistent with a transgender student’s gender identity.” Additionally, schools are required to allow transgender students to use restrooms and participate in athletics associated with their gender identity.

Florida statutes, along with the county’s Code of Student Conduct, say students can opt out of reciting the pledge with parental permission.

According to the school district, Caggiano was “counseled” and the rest of Sandalwood’s faculty will receive additional training. It was not clear if Caggiano will face any additional discipline. Sandalwood officials declined to comment.

An investigation into the First Coast High teacher’s conduct is ongoing.

C. Isaiah Smalls II is a reporter covering breaking and trending news for the Miami Herald. Previously, he worked for ESPN’s The Undefeated as part of their inaugural class of Rhoden Fellows. He is a graduate of both Columbia University and Morehouse College.
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