Backlash continues against Ocala teacher accused of drowning raccoons with students​

Teacher placed on paid administrative leave pending outcome of investigation

By Vanessa Araiza - Reporter

OCALA, Fla. - Backlash against a Forest High School teacher continues after he reportedly had students assist him in drowning two raccoons and a possum Monday during his agriculture class.

The teacher, who has been with Marion County schools for more than 20 years, was placed on paid administrative leave Tuesday pending the outcome of an investigation.

Even with the teacher removed from the classroom, school board members have been inundated with phone calls.

"My phone has so many messages and calls from all over the United States," Beth McCall said.

McCall chairs the Marion County School Board. She said she has received calls from New Mexico, Connecticut and Tennessee.

"They're just appalled. They just think it's horrific. They don't understand how anybody could be so cruel to animals. That all life has value and that this is just unacceptable," McCall said.

An officer with the Ocala Police Department was sent to the school board this week after hundreds of calls were received. A representative with the police department said some of the callers gave the receptionist their opinion on how to deal with the animals and the teacher.

On Wednesday, Superintendent Dr. Heidi Maier called for the teacher's resignation.

McCall said she echoes the superintendent's recommendation.

"Yes, without a doubt," McCall said.

Emails and phone calls were made to the remaining school board members.

Vice Chair Angelina Boynton replied with a statement:

"The extent of the information I have is based upon the news reports. These reports are appalling, however, there are procedures in place to ensure the employee receives their due process protections while the matter is fully investigated. Upon conclusion of the investigation, the superintendent will make a recommendation and if challenged, the board will hear the matter and make a final determination based on the facts of the case.

"As a school board member, I want you to know that the district is unified in its efforts to keep its schools safe for students, school personnel, parents and others. Should you or your child become aware of a the animals concerns, please alert a teacher, administrator or school safety officer immediately. The district will continue to alert you and your family of events. Encourage your child to seek out a school counselor if they have a continuing need to talk about the recent violence. It is also important for parents to find support too."

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