An elementary school teacher is facing backlash after asking one of her students a series of uncomfortable questions.
Jezenia Gambino, the parent of a fifth-grader at Northport K-8 in Port St. Lucie, Fla., said the conversation left her daughter too embarrassed to return to school. The mom told WPTV she’s withdrawing her child from Northport and will homeschool her for the remainder of the year.
The controversy began when the teacher, who remains unnamed, confronted Gambino’s daughter about a “rumor” she’d heard.
“The rumor was that my daughter and another 5th-grade little girl were dating,” Gambino told WPTV.
However, the teacher allegedly confronted Gaminbo’s daughter in front of the entire class, leaving the fifth-grader confused and concerned.
“She asked them if they were together if they were dating as a couple together and she asked them in a way that they felt they were in trouble,” Gambino said. “She wasn’t sure if they should hang out together anymore because of what happened in school. She didn’t want anyone to think they were gay.”
Gambino reached out to the school’s principal, and administrators launched an investigation. That led to the Florida Department of Education giving the teacher an official warning.
But that result wasn’t satisfactory for Gambino, who told WPTV the school should have done more to protect her daughter. She’s withdrawn her daughter from Northport and will homeschool her for at least the remainder of the school year.
“What they did affected my daughter in a way that now I’m having to go back and fix,” Gambino said.
The St. Lucie Public Schools District, meanwhile, has stood by its handling of the incident. The district told WPTV in a statement that it does not tolerate “harassment” against its students.
“[We] will not tolerate sexual harassment or any other form of illegal harassment by any of its employees, students, volunteers or agents,” the statement read.