Report: Duval Schools investigating ‘transphobic’ social media posts connected to teacher

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County Public Schools is investigating derogatory social media posts that are reportedly connected to a teacher at Sandalwood High School.

The inquiry comes after the Florida Times-Union published an investigation into math teacher Thomas Caggiano who reportedly shared “transphobic, xenophobic and racist public social media posts” on his public Facebook page in the months after he refused to address a transgender student by her chosen gender identity.

“I will NOT refer to you with female pronouns,” Caggiano wrote to a transgender student in a 2019 email obtained by the Times-Union. "If this is not acceptable for you, change classes. I will call you by any reasonable name you like, but the pronouns are not a negotiable thing for me.”

Following the exchange with the student, which prompted school-wide inclusivity training, Caggiano continued to post “bigoted memes mocking the LGBTQ community,” the Times-Union reported.

On Friday, a Duval Schools spokesman confirmed to News4Jax that the district is looking into Caggiano’s social media posts.

“Even though the person appearing to make the posts does not immediately identify himself as a teacher or make reference to the district, our Office of Equity and Inclusion and Professional Standards is going to conduct an inquiry to determine if the posts merit further action either under district policy or the Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida,” spokesman Tracy Pierce wrote in an email to News4Jax. “We have strong policies for inclusion and non-discrimination. We believe education should occur in an atmosphere where differences are understood and appreciated and where all are treated fairly and with respect – free from discrimination, harassment and threats of violence or abuse.”

The district declined to provide more details about Caggiano because of the ongoing investigation.

Following the report from the Times-Union, the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus called for Caggiano to be removed from his job at the school, a position he has held for more than 15 years.

“The teacher in question has a long and disturbing track record of anti-LGBTQ comments and abhorrent viewpoints. Duval County Public Schools should complete its investigation thoroughly and swiftly - and it should be the end of Mr. Caggiano’s public teaching career. A teacher’s personal views should never come at the expense of a student’s safety or well-being," said Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus President Stephen Gaskill.

Caggiano is a U.S. Navy veteran who received a Shine Award from former Florida Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.

According to a press release from the Florida Department of Education, Caggiano served in the United States Navy from June 1982 through February 1994. Following his time in the Navy, Caggiano was a teacher at Ribault Middle School and Twin Lakes Academy Middle for seven years. He later transferred to Sandalwood High School in 2002 where he teaches AP Stats and AP Calculus.

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Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.