UPDATED 6:45 PM – Friday, April 14, 2023
Numerous parents and advocates have informed the press that a middle school in Florida failed to inform parents when a transgender teacher, who goes by the name Ashlee, allegedly threatened to kill themself and other pupils.
An officer temporarily assigned as the school resource officer (SRO) at Fox Chapel Middle School in Hernando County, Florida, responded to a report from assistant principal Kerry Thornton and guidance counselor Kimberly Walby on March 24th.
According to an incident report that Moms for Liberty’s Hernando County branch was able to obtain, Thornton and Walby claimed that a teacher had openly made comments about hurting themselves and possibly shooting some students at the school.
According to the report, the teacher’s original “dead-name” was Alexander Renczkowski and he is currently in the process of transitioning from male to female. Renczkowski acknowledged having “bad thoughts” but later denied threatening to hurt students, or wanting to commit suicide.
The report stated that after conducting a threat assessment on Renczkowski, Sandra Hurst, the mental health coordinator for the Hernando County School District, found that he did not meet the requirements of the Baker Act. The Baker Act is a Florida statute that permits the institutionalization of mentally ill people without their consent. A deputy sheriff later visited the teacher’s residence and removed three firearms and ammunition.
“The investigation revealed that no criminal offense(s) occurred; therefore, no arrest(s) could be made,” said a public relations manager for the Hernando County Sheriff’s office. “Further, deputies found that the individual did not, at that moment, meet the required criteria for involuntary commitment under the Baker Act.”
“In an abundance of caution, the HCSO petitioned the court for a temporary Risk Protection Order (RPO). The order was granted immediately. The individual cooperated with law enforcement and immediately turned over all firearms.”
The sheriff’s office stated that the RPO will expire in a year and also informed the press that they employ Michael Renczkowski, a deputy, who the teacher’s parents claim is a relative.
Renczkowski did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The following day, the instructor reportedly returned to the classroom, and parents were not made aware of the incident until more than a week later. The majority learned this information via a local news report by journalist Tom Lemons who used unnamed sources, as well as their children who were there during the incident.
Lemons claims that the event occurred “three days prior to the shooting in Nashville” and that the teacher was “sent home for the day” after some students complained to administrators.
Parents from the school informed the press that on April 13th, the teacher was still missing from the classroom with a substitute leading the students, but they still had not been informed of why their children’s teacher, Ashlee, was absent.
“It took roughly two and a half weeks for them to even say anything to the parents and send some kind of, excuse my language, bullsh*t recording. And it’s because of a local reporter here, Tom Lemons. He broke the article,” said Jim Looker, a parent of a 12-year-old student at the school.
“I got a pre-recorded call from the school basically confirming that there were some statements made, but they were investigated, and it was determined that the teacher was not a threat,” said Shenna Barrios, another parent.
“The school didn’t say anything. I found out this Easter weekend when I read the article that came out,” said Jacqueline Gioiosa, a parent whose eighth-grade child was one of Renczkowski’s students.
When parents eventually heard from the school about the threat around 17 days after the incident, according to Gioiosa, they immediately contacted school principal Carmine Rufa about the threat.
Dana Johnson, whose two daughters attend the school, told the press that she heard more from the administrators when she decided to keep her daughters home from school on Wednesday, due to the teacher’s threats.
“If you can try to talk to me and tell me I can get in trouble for not sending my kid when they’re sick and forgetting to send the note in, then why are we not notified as parents when there’s a teacher that has made a statement of this degree?” Johnson said.
Parents also told the press that the school is constantly updating them on other matters, such as the fire alarm being pulled or if someone is found with a weapon at a neighboring park. So, there is no excuse for the school administration to try to “push this under the rug.”
“The school board is evaluating the teacher, but no allegations have been reported for legal investigation,” the local authorities maintained.
Police finally sent out a press release on April 12th.
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