A transgender Florida middle school teacher that allegedly made threats against students in late March was removed by the district while the incident is being investigated, the Hernando County School District said in a press release Monday.
The action comes after transgender Fox Chapel Middle School math teacher Ashlee Renczkowski reportedly made “concerning statements about self-harm and then possibly making statements about shooting students” to the school’s Assistant Principal Kerry Thornton on March 24, according to a report from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the report, Renczkowski, a biological male that is transitioning to female, told school Guidance Counselor Kimberly Walby that he was upset over social media posts talking negatively about his sexual orientation, and that some of his students were underperforming, making a comment that he wanted “to shoot some” of those students.
The sheriff’s office said in a press release April 12, that while investigating the comments did not reveal a criminal offense, the department petitioned the court for a temporary, and later permanent, Risk Protection Order, which was granted, that allowed deputies take any firearms Renczkowski had.
The teacher’s actions, however, did not rise to the criteria of the state’s Baker Act that would have allowed law enforcement to involuntarily confine him to a mental health facility.
“Just like school discipline of a student, once law enforcement has completed the investigation regarding possible criminal activity, evaluated the individual for Baker Act criteria, and determined whether an RPO is appropriate, our involvement is complete,” the agency’s release said. “Employment and/or disciplinary decisions rest solely with the Hernando County School District.”
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The district said Monday that Renczkowski was removed from student contact and was not on the school campus since March 27.
The Florida State Department of Education posted on Twitter on Friday that the teacher was only removed effective Thursday, April 13, a day after the department was notified regarding the incident.
Angry parents, however, attended the Hernando County School Board meeting April 11 demanding to know why the teacher was still in the district, local television station Bay 9 News reported.
“I just want the questions answered,” the outlet reported parent Sheena Barrios, a concerned parent with students at Fox Chapel saying during the meeting. “What exactly was said? How does this person investigate it and clear to come back into the schools and how is this going to be addressed in the future?”
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The district’s release Monday outlined the steps taken by the different agencies and said that there was “confusion” and “misinformation” relating to facts that have been reported since the incident.