“The actions of this teacher were very unprofessional”: Sen. Keith Perry expresses concern with a GHS teacher’s mask policy

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 11:33 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Reaction to a post by an Alachua County Public Schools teacher is adding to the controversy surrounding the district’s mask mandate. District 8 State Sen. Keith Perry is asking district leaders to take action after screenshots of Gainesville High School teacher Joe Waddell’s Facebook page show him saying, “maskless students will sit in the back of the class.”

He continues by saying, “extra credit for wearing a mask too.”

“The actions of this teacher were very unprofessional, were very uncalled for. We can’t have a teacher threatening to harass students based on medical conditions or any other policies the school board sets in place,” explained Perry.

He said he spoke with school district Superintendent Carlee Simon and he believes this situation will be handled appropriately.

“I think she shares my concern and the rest of the communities concern. They are going to take the appropriate action. I don’t know what that will be, and I’m trusting the school board to do what is right,” said Perry.

According to Superintendent Simon, school leaders are addressing this specific case. She explained district leaders are reviewing social media policies with all staff members.

“Right now, we are in a very strenuous time associated with the polarizing component of the masks. We are reminding our teachers and staff members about these policies. Letting them know that we need to make thoughtful considerations for how we address social media,” explained Simon.

While they have policies relating to social media, she said they also have to protect their staff’s right to free speech.

“We want to ensure we are protecting our teachers to freedom of speech. Then we also have responsibilities associated with what is appropriate, what is not appropriate involving students,” explained Simon.

RELATED STORY: ‘Certainly inappropriate’: Gainesville High School teacher scrutinized for social media post

According to Sen. Perry, he has heard from many people regarding the post made by the teacher.

“I’ve had more calls on this issue than just about any other issue since I have been elected,” said Perry.

As for the mask requirement, Simon said school board leaders will continue following the data.

“I don’t think while we are in the heat of any of the Delta variant infection rates, the board will walk away,” explained Simon. “Again, I’m not a voting member, but I do know the board is very much focused on the data.”

Simon said every student on campus needs to be wearing a mask.

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