Hernando County, Florida Reaches Tipping Point Over Community Values


There's so much happening in Hernando County, Florida as the community reaches a tipping point over competing community values that the best we can do for you here is summarize the news in brief.

  • Several hundred people gathered in Hernando County, Florida at a school board meeting on Tuesday, May 30th.  One speaker told me she was assigned speaking number #256, with each speaker allotted 3 minutes to address the school board.  Early in the evening, the Hernando County Sheriff's Department started communicating to the hundreds of people in line outside of the building that the building was at capacity and that the line would not be moving forward.
  • The superintendent retained his job Tuesday night as the school board voted along predicted ideological lines 3-2 to retain the superintendent amidst the multiple controversies and legal challenges facing the district. 
  • The line to get in to the Hernando County, FL School Board meeting on May 30, 2023.

This clash of liberals vs. conservatives was inevitable with several issues that have caused division primarily along ideological lines.  Here's a quick breakdown of the issues dividing the community in Hernando County :

Superintendent :  Three Hernando County legislators issued a joint statement calling for the resignation of Hernando County School District Superintendent John Stratton.  Florida State Senator Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill), State Representative Jeff Holcomb (R-Spring Hill), and State Representative John Temple (R-Wildwood) issued the following joint statement:

“Today, we are collectively calling for the resignation of Hernando Schools Superintendent John Stratton. It is clear to us that Superintendent Stratton has lost the confidence of parents, grandparents, and our community. We can no longer sit back and allow the Hernando County school system to make national news for its poor decisions, lack of transparency and accountability, and its contempt for parental rights. Whether it is pornographic material in our schools, not notifying parents when their children may have been around an alleged pedophile, or allowing a teacher back in the classroom after threatening to kill students, it is clear to us that change is needed, and it is needed now.”

School Board Member :  A Change.org petition has gathered 26,000 signatures from union members, community activists and parents calling for the removal of a school board member advocating for conservative values and corrective action in Hernando County Schools.  

Tidings Media looked at t he petition, and there was nothing limiting the petition to Hernando County, or even Florida.  Several of the names that we researched seemed to not be cross referenced to locals, with at least three signatures in a dozen that we looked at matching names from California.  The credibility of the petition is questionable, with no binding legal impact as there is no recall provision in Hernando County, FL to eliminate a school board member based on petition.

Shannon Rodriguez, a Hernando County School Board member, has displayed toxic, inappropriate, and unprofessional behavior for an elected official. 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. This persecutory behavior, in the end, is resulting in teachers leaving the field and students without certified teachers for core classes. Shannon Rodriguez has displayed time and time again that, as a school board member, she does NOT support those who work in schools and has shown her disconnect with the reality of the public education system. She has called staff members lazy, claimed we are exposing children to pornography, and aligned herself with those who state that educators are indoctrinating and grooming children.

Teacher Shows Disney Movie Featuring Gay Character :  A former Florida teacher is under investigation by the state's Department of Education after she showed her students a Disney movie that features a gay character.Jenna Barbee, who taught fifth grade in the Hernando County School District, says a student's mother lodged a complaint with education officials after Barbee showed the film Strange World in her classroom.  The movie is the first movie that Disney promoted specifically featuring a gay character.  

"While not the main plot of the movie, parts of the story involves a male character having and expressing feelings for another male character," a letter from the district to parents of kids in the class reads in part. "In the future, this movie will not be shown."

The district went on to state that the movie may violate Florida's "Parental Bill of Rights," a law signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last year.  The law  bars classroom instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity.  

The teacher released her own comments on Tic Tok explaining her side of the controversy :  https://v16m-default.tiktokcdn-us.com/6020b12c8a5fb678ffe3bab2f8ba219f/…

Inappropriate Materials :  The Florida Department of Education has released examples of what it calls "problematic elements" within textbooks recently reviewed and rejected by the department.  The department said it rejected 54 of 132 submitted math textbooks — 28 of which were said to incorporate "prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies" like critical race theory, or CRT.  

Kara Floyd, the chair of the Moms for Liberty chapter in Hernando County, said she's happy the state rejected so many books. She believes the pandemic led a lot of parents to realize their children were being taught unsuitable material.

"This does not align with what I thought was being taught. Where are my rights as a parent that my child is being taught about sexual ideology at such a young age," Floyd said.

Teacher Threatens To Kill Kids :  A transgender teacher has been removed from a school after allegedly threatening to 'shoot some students' days after seeing social media posts discussing her sexual orientation.  The parents were not told about the threat until weeks later.  The biological male teacher from Florida who uses she/her pronouns has been removed from a classroom in Hernando School District (HSD) and police have seized three firearms and ammunition from the home.  The teacher allegedly 'made a comment that she wanted to shoot some students due to them not performing to their ability'.  Later that day, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office (HSCO) seized three firearms and ammunition from the teacher's residence.  However, the teacher was not removed immediately by the district and only after the Florida Department of Education interceded nearly three weeks after the threat.

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