BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — A Hernando County teacher says she is being investigated by the Florida Department of Education for showing the Disney movie “Strange World” to her students, and now an online petition has been started calling for the resignation of the school board member she has accused of instigating the case.
What You Need To Know
- An online petition has been started calling for the resignation of a Hernando School Board member accused of reporting a teacher to the state for showing the movie "Strange World" to her fifth grade students
- Jenna Barbee, who teaches at Winding Waters K-8 in Brooksville, described the situation in a TikTok video she posted over the weekend
- ABOVE: Watch Saundra Weathers 6 p.m. Friday report
Teacher Jenna Barbee has accused school board member Shannon Rodriguez of reporting her to the state because movie she showed to her fifth grade class included an openly gay character.
Since Barbee posted on TikTok about the investigation, an online petition against Rodriguez has garnered more than 13,000 signatures.
The petition, started on change.org, says this is not the first time Rodriguez has stirred controversy.
"Her behavior at school board meetings continues to contribute to a maladaptive community environment regarding education, along with persecutory behavior from the community towards educational professionals," the petition said.
Group leaders say they are hoping to get 15,000 signatures.
Heather Carter, who teaches in Hernando County, says she doesn't think Rodriguez's actions and behavior has any place in the school district.
“If we can get her removed, we can overcome this divisiveness that has become our school board,” Carter said. “And if we can overcome that divisiveness, we can actually work together and create improved conditions in our schools. There’s a lot more we need to be focusing on than pride flags.”
Barbee said previously that the reason she was turned in was because one of the students that came to her class to watch the movie that day was Rodriguez’s daughter.
Barbee says Rodriguez reported her to the Florida Department of Education, and while Rodriguez has not confirmed that, she doubled down on her opposition to showing the film to fifth graders.
“Allowing movies such as this, assist teachers in opening a door, and please hear me they assist teachers in opening a door for conversations that have no place in our classrooms," said Rodriguez at a recent school board meeting.
Spectrum News reached out to officials at the Florida Department of Education and they say while the teacher in question is openly discussing the matter, they can't confirm or deny an investigation.
Spectrum News also reached out Friday to Rodriguez but did not hear back.
Meanwhile, the district is changing the location for the next school board meeting, as officials are expecting a larger than usual crowd, given the circumstances.
The May 30 meeting will be held at Hernando High School, in the campus theater. This applies to the board workshop at noon and the regular meeting at 6 p.m.
There will also be extra security measures in place. No bags, purses or backpacks will be allowed, and visitors will be screened by metal detectors.
Additional law enforcement officers and school guardians will also be present.