A transgender-identifying teacher in Florida has been fired after reportedly threatening to shoot students.
Ashlee Renczkowski was removed from Fox Chapel Middle School in Hernando County last week, according to a statement from the Florida Department of Education.
Superintendent John Stratton’s Wednesday decision to remove Renczkowski, who was reportedly “having bad thoughts” and made disturbing comments about students, followed state officials raising concerns with the Hernando County School District.
Fox Chapel Middle School Assistant Principal Kerry Thornton and Guidance Counselor Kimberly Walby informed a school resource officer about Renczkowski’s concerning comments of shooting students along with performing self-harm on March 24.
“Earlier this week, the Department was informed of a situation regarding student safety at a school in Hernando County,” read the Florida Department of Education’s statement. “Upon the Department bringing the concern to the Superintendent Wednesday evening, only then did the district remove the teacher from the school.”
Please see the Florida Department of Education’s statement below on a school safety situation in Hernando County. pic.twitter.com/gBwNpcf4H6
— Florida Department of Education (@EducationFL) April 14, 2023
Thornton visited Renczkowski’s classroom shortly after learning of the teacher’s comments. Renczkowski, whose wife also works at the middle school, reportedly told the Assistant Principal they were “not good” and “having bad thoughts” when asked how the teacher’s day was going, according to the report.
Renczkowski, who is a biological male and is taking hormone medications, reportedly learned of a social media post in which the teacher’s sexual orientation was being discussed in a negative manner, according to the school resource officer’s report.
The teacher also reportedly abandoned their birth name of Alexander in favor of Ashlee in 2021 and had planned to seek surgery over the summer.
Renczkowski, who admitted to possessing three firearms, reportedly expressed a desire to “shoot some students due to them not performing to their ability” and “not trying to pass their class.” However, after making these comments, Renczkowski backtracked, saying the teacher “does not want to see them fail” and “would never harm a student.”
“The school district will continue to investigate the incident and require further involvement by mental health experts,” Stratton said in a Thursday statement. “As part of our investigation, we will take a hard look at all the actions that were taken on that day, and in the days following the incident, and determine if any steps were missed.”
“The school district has dedicated a tremendous amount of time and resources toward implementing outstanding school safety protocols,” he added. “As part of our safety practice, conclusions drawn from this incident may lead to consideration of additional safeguards.”
“Anybody that makes a comment like that should not be working in a school,” said Fox Chapel parent Mike Martini in a statement to FOX13. “If a student made that comment there would be charges pressed. The child would be expelled.”
“I was told that the teacher had stated they were going to shoot the kids and they were going to then kill themselves,” said another parent. “My heart dropped the moment that I heard that it was confirmed that there [were] actual weapons inside of the household.”