HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Members of the Hernando County School Board are bracing for a busy meeting Tuesday.
District leaders are adding security and changing the venue amid a classroom movie controversy.
Jenna Barbee is a fifth-grade teacher at Winding Waters K-8 in Weeki Wachee. She admits to showing students “Strange World,” a Disney movie that includes a gay teenager.
According to district policy, educators must receive approval before showing films to students. Barbee said she didn’t get the required permission but assumed it wouldn’t be an issue because the film is rated ‘PG’.
‘I was showing a movie to my students about Earth because that’s our current lessons in science,” Barbee previously explained during a meeting. “Now, all my students have to be interviewed about what kind of teacher I am and what exactly does that show them.”
The Florida Department of Education launched an investigation into the incident when it was reported by school board member Shannon Rodriguez.
“Movies such as this assist teachers, and please hear me, assist teachers in opening a door for conversations that have no place in our classrooms,” she said at a prior meeting.
Some of Barbee’s fellow teachers in Hernando County are defending the educator.
“I believe she made an honest mistake with not getting the approval, but I do see the connection between her curriculum and the movie itself,” Heather Carter said. “Nobody thought about one little boy who had feelings for another boy.”
The location of Tuesday’s school board workshop and meeting was relocated to Hernando High School. The measure is to accommodate a larger crowd. Additional security will be in place and attendees can anticipate the following requirements: Bags (purses, backpacks, etc.) will not be allowed in the theater and all attendees will be required to be screened by metal detectors.
The school board workshop is scheduled to begin at noon while the meeting is at 6:00 p.m.