No discipline for Lake City teacher accused of bullying

Shelli Shoup takes new role as virtual teacher

By Travis Gibson - Reporter

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. - Following an investigation, the Columbia County School District took no disciplinary action against Shelli Shoup, a Columbia High School teacher who was accused of bullying students. 

The district did conclude in its investigation that Shoup "could certainly benefit from remedial sensitivity training including anti-bullying and harassment." 

The School District began its investigation into Shoup after the Columbia County School Board heard complaints in October by former students from the school who said they were bullied by Shoup throughout high school, an experience that made their lives miserable.

After the students came forward, the district received additional reports of past misconduct by Shoup, according to the investigation by Judy Tatem, a district school safety specialist. Only one report of misconduct or bullying came from a parent of a current cross-country student. The district did not investigate the claims of former students.

"In choosing not to investigate the claims of former students, we are not dismissing their allegations nor are we suggesting that the events as they recall them did not occur," the investigation report states.

According to her report, Tatem met with 123 students in each of Shoup's six classes and told them how to report bullying through the bullying portal on the district's website. One previously unreported complaint against Shoup came in, but that complaint not found to be credible, according to the investigator. 

Tatem also interviewed members of the cross-country team and the 25 runners showed strong support for Shoup, the report states. Despite the support, Shoup voluntarily resigned as cross-country coach earlier in the week.

"Between the lack of reports by current students of any inappropriate behavior, including bullying or harassment, as well as the multiple interviews I conducted of current students, it appears that any type of inappropriate behavior on the part of Ms. Shoup in the past is no longer present in her classroom or around the cross-country teams," the report states.

Shoup decided to step away from the classroom, according to the report, and received a position in the district's Community Home Instruction/Virtual school division.

The investigation report will be forwarded to the Florida Department of Education.

In a written statement, superintendent Alex Carswell said he will not comment on the investigation and considers the investigation closed.

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