People show support for former Columbia High School teacher accused of bullying students

LAKE CITY, Fla. (WCJB) - Shelli Shoup went on voluntary leave and resigned from her role as cross country coach at Columbia High School after she was accused of bullying former students.

She has since been granted reassignment to the county’s online education platform.

At Tuesday night's school board meeting, parents, former students, and Lake City residents stepped up to the microphone to show their support for Shoup.

“I’m appalled that this could happen, that this teacher was basically bullied into stepping down," said a parent. "I hope it never happens again. I wish Ms. Shoup well, and I also wish she could return, but I understand why she would want to leave the classroom. Thank you, Ms. Shoup. We’ll miss you.”

“She was the type of person who would always want to help the next person and find a way for you to be better, help you with your math, not just help you with your math, but help you inside of school and outside of school,” said a student.

Even Shoup's own daughter came to her defense, describing how their family has been affected by the accusations.

“I feel like one thing we can all agree on is anti-bullying, love and healing," she said. "Over the past few weeks, sadly, my family has been a victim of bullying to the most extreme level, and I hope that after tonight, we can all join together and share love, kindness, grace and mercy.”

Superintendent Alex Carswell says an investigation was conducted, but at least one parents says the school board needs to do more.

“We can cut it off with the kids now, that’s fine, but why it existed for as long as it existed, to act like it didn’t happen when you have kids documented, multiple, some still in counseling today, it’s something that we need to look at,” said a parent.

A school safety specialist says Shoup could use remedial sensitivity training but faces no formal discipline.