Gulf County School Board Suspends Port St. Joe Elementary Teacher for Allegations of Misconduct

PORT ST. JOE, Fla. - It was standing room only at a Gulf County school board meeting all to show support for a teacher who faces multiple misconduct allegations. But the pleas from those who back this former teacher of the year fell on deaf ears as the board suspended the fourth grade teacher from Port St. Joe Elementary School.

The Gulf County school board voted 3-1 to suspend 4th grade Port St. Joe teacher Krissy Gentry without pay for the rest of the school year for allegations of misconduct. 

Back in September, Gentry allegedly left her class unattended for 30 minutes and received a written warning.    

Then an electronic journal entry by an Florida State University teachers assistant sparked the board to hire a Tallahassee law firm to investigate Gentry. 

The investigation found several violations of school board policy.

Gentry reportedly used her cell phone during class, and showed her students videos of media coverage of the Parkland shooting which was not permitted by administrators. Investigators said she also held class discussions on guns, and allegedly told the kids not to tell their parents or the principal.

"The investigation was comprehensive and shows there was serious policy violations which is why the recommendation led to the action taken by the board," said Attorney for the school board Leonard Dietzen of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell Law Firm.

Gentry was notably absent from Monday's meeting due to a recommendation from the Gulf County Education Association, on which she also serves as president. Despite the allegations, dozens of parents, students and educators turned out to support her.

"She cares how we feel, she wants us to be kind and do good in school and the world," said one of her students to the board.

"I think it would be a terrible precedent to take a teacher with this much love and respect in the community and discipline her unless it was really serious charges," said a man in the public comment portion of the meeting. 

"The students whole learning environment has been disrupted because of what is hearsay," said parent and friend of Gentry Susan Kotelman. 

Gentry has nearly 30 years teaching experience and won teacher of the year twice. She can challenge the decision at a division of administration hearing, or through a collective bargaining agreement which allows her to challenge it up to arbitration.

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