WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (WFLA) — Marina Gentilesco is an instructional assistant at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Pasco County.
She grew up hearing stories of her parents in the Holocaust. It’s the reason she gets angry as she passes her coworker’s parking spot everyday.
“I feel like it’s attacking me as a Jew,” she said.
The parking spot has a Bible verse painted on it saying, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”
“It brings me to the verge of tears, because it brings me back to the 6 million that perished,” Gentilesco said. “Six million perished because of our faith — because we’re Jews.”
She says it brings back painful memories.
“They survived,” she said. “We didn’t.”
Gentilesco says she wouldn’t mind it at a place like a church, but doesn’t think it belongs on schoolgrounds.
“You put it on a state-funded property,” she said. “I’m not okay with it.”
Gentilesco expressed her frustrations to her principal who checked in with the district. Pasco County Schools will not be removing the Bible verse.
“It’s not a violation,” Pasco County Schools Public Information Officer Stephen Hegarty said. “This is personal expression.”
“There is no proselytizing going on,” Hegarty added. “It’s not compelling students to do anything one way or the other.”
He says it in no way reflects what students are being taught in school.
“It has nothing to do with instruction,” he said. “It’s just a teacher expressing themselves just like they might wear a crucifix on their shirt.”
So the Bible verse painted on a teacher’s parking spot at Wiregrass Ranch High School is here to stay.
“Teachers and students are free to express themselves,” Hegarty said.