FORT LAUDERDALE – Two teachers who were removed from their classrooms after they were accused of sprinkling holy water onto an atheist colleague have been reinstated, the South Florida Times has confirmed.
“They will be returning to their classrooms on Tuesday (June 8),” confirmed Johnny L. McCray Jr. the attorney representing Blanche Ely High School reading teachers Leslie Rainer and Djuna Robinson.
School officials now say that return will be on Wednesday, June 9, instead.
Rainer and Robinson were removed from their classrooms on April 23. The action followed allegations that they sprinkled holy water onto another teacher who is an avowed atheist, and that they caused mental injury to students by allegedly making disparaging comments about Haiti.
The Broward Sheriff’s office Child Protective Investigations Section (CPIS) is conducting a separate investigation into allegations that the teachers’ alleged remarks about Haiti caused psychological harm to the students.
Sources close to the investigation who wish to remain anonymous say BSO’s probe will be closed, likely on Wednesday, June 9.
Broward schools officials have not commented on the reinstatement, but McCray said his clients received calls on Monday from Richard Mijon, personnel administrator in the school district’s Special Investigative Unit (SIU), advising the teachers to return to duty.
Mijon did not return calls about the new developments, but McCray said his clients will sign forms later today, June 7, indicating they are aware that they are to report back to their regular duties on Tuesday.
“I have confirmed it with him [Mijon], but they are saying the investigation is not over; just that there was never any cause or reasons for them to have been removed from their classrooms in the first place,” McCray explained.
Rainer and Robinson, who profess that they are Christians, were initially accused of sprinkling holy water onto fellow teacher Schandra Tompkinsel Rodriguez, an avowed atheist. School officials backed away from that allegation last week.
The allegations stemmed from a March 11 incident in which Rodriguez was in her classroom with students, discussing the fact that she does not believe in God or the Bible, according to confidential sources and McCray.
When Rainer and Robinson entered the room, the discussion centered on the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated Haiti.
A student brought up the Rev. Pat Robertson’s remark that the disaster was caused by God’s wrath on the island nation because of a pact Haitian leaders purportedly made with Satan more than 200 years ago, the confidential sources and McCray said.
A student remarked, “Somebody needs some holy water.”
That’s when Robinson retrieved a bottle of perfume and held it up as she stood in the doorway. The teachers have denied spraying any liquid or making the comments about Haiti.
Rodriguez has not responded to repeated requests for comment.
“I think that its shows the entire decision to remove them was calculated with the intent to defame and harass them. The school board dropped the ball, and they fell for information provided by the principal, without conducting a diligent review,” McCray said.
Photo Caption: Reading teachers Djuna Robinson, above, and Leslie Rainer. Schandra Rodriguez, below.