Florida teacher accused of calling ag students ‘murderers’

OCALA, Fla. (AP) – A Florida teacher stands to lose his job after school officials said he bullied and harassed Future Farmers of America students who are raising livestock to be sold for slaughter.

Middle school teacher Thomas Roger Allison Jr., 53, has been placed on unpaid leave from Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks near Ocala for calling the students who are raising livestock “murderers,” according to a Marion County school district letter documenting the case.

In a written recommendation for termination, Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier said that Allison “has engaged in a repeated, egregious pattern of mistreating, ridiculing, insulting, intimidating, embarrassing bullying and abusing FFA students, crushing their dreams and causing them to feel that they must discontinue FFA activities to enjoy a peaceful school environment.”

The Ocala Star-Banner reports Allison is also accused of harassing the group’s teacher adviser and encouraging his honors science students to harass FAA members.

A district investigation revealed that Allison is on a quest to end the animal agriculture program because of his animal rights beliefs. Maier said he’s also made it harder for FFA students to get good grades in his science class.

Allison told investigators he won’t stop speaking out on animal slaughter, and said he is innocent. He is on unpaid leave pending a hearing before the school board.

“I love working in Marion County and love my students,” he said. “I will fight for my job.”

Allison was named as one of the five finalist for 2016 Golden Apple teacher of the year honors.

Maier ordered the investigation on March 28. It looked into dozens of accusations from teachers, students and parents. The investigation lasted 10 days and resulted in a scathing report.

Allison told students that he was obtaining his certification in agriculture so that he could take the agriculture teacher’s job and stop animal projects, the report states. “This has upset and confused the FFA students, who do not want their academics to suffer because of their involvement with animal projects.”

One agriculture student told investigators that Allison makes her feel like she is doing something wrong.

According to the report, even after Allison was made aware of the investigation, he continued “addressing students antagonistically and cruelly, thus failing in his obligation not to harass or discriminate against any student.”

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