ORANGE PARK, Fla. – A former Nassau County principal who resigned last month after officials said he admitted to taking money from Fernandina Beach High School and who recently got fired from Duval County Public Schools has been hired by a private school in Clay County.
Dr. Spencer Lodree was hired by Orange Park Performing Arts Academy as director of operations, and started working at the school on Monday.
Some people familiar with the private school on Kingsley Avenue told News4Jax on Tuesday that they're not happy about the hire.
According to the Nassau County school superintendent, Lodree, who served as the principal of Fernandina Beach High School, admitted to taking $1,300 from a basketball game's ticket sales and resigned Feb. 5.
Between then and March 6, he was hired and fired by Duval County Public Schools. The district said Lodree was hired Feb. 20 as the assistant principal of Northwestern Middle School in Jacksonville and was fired after the district said, "He did not appropriately disclose relevant information regarding his separation from his previous employer."
Sometime after his firing from DCPS on March 6 and now, Lodree was hired by Orange Park Performing Arts Academy, which opened as a charter school four years ago and became a private school last year after the state revoked its charter.
Several people with ties to the private school reached out to News4Jax with concerns about the hire, including a woman whose family member attends the school.
"By having this man here, we're saying it's OK to do wrong as long as, at the end of it, you say, 'Well, OK. I'll fess up and I'll take care of it with whatever I have,'" said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous. "I mean, we have to tell the children that wrong is wrong and stick to that and show them this in life."
The founder of Orange Park Performing Arts Academy told News4Jax that Lodree was hired because he is highly qualified and competent, he was never charged or convicted, and because everyone deserves second chances.
As of Tuesday, the founder said, parents had not yet been notified about the new hire.
A former employee, however, sent letters to News4Jax. The letters -- one to parents and the other to staff -- were from the board, announcing the hire.
The chief of Fernandina Beach Police Department told News4Jax on Tuesday that the case is closed. Both the school board and the State Attorney's Office agreed not to prosecute, so there will be no charges. But the Nassau County School District said, by law, it had to report the incident to the Florida Department of Education.
According to the state department's website, Lodree still has an active teaching certificate.