St. Lucie County teacher accused of using sex references in class is still teaching

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - According to a Port St. Lucie High School conference summary, St. Lucie County Assistant Superintendent Dr. Mark Rendell was, at the time, the principal who met with Meri-Ann Johnson after she was accused of making several inappropriate sexual references in her classroom.

The President of the St. Lucie County teachers union was also listed as attending the meeting. 

We wanted to ask Dr. Rendell at Thursday's negotiation session between the union and the school board, why was the teacher allowed to continue to teach, after allegations, which include simulating a strip tease, simulating a sex act with a water bottle, and using a sex reference to explain an algebraic concept. 

In an email response, Dr. Rendell said he could not comment on pending litigation.

The student's lawyer, Gloria Seidule, said his mother was a teacher in the school district, and she followed proper protocol for issuing multiple complaints. Seidule said the lawsuit, filed Wednesday, alleges "Rendell failed to remove Johnson from the classroom."

"Instead of being taken out of the classroom, the young man was punished for complaining, by being removed from her classroom," said Seidule.

Seidule said the only action Rendell took was to issue a letter of reprimand to Johnson, saying it would affect her annual evaluation. The lawsuit alleges the student was "repeatedly exposed to sexually inappropriate behavior," and Seidule said it's not only a violation of state law to not report it to authorities-- it's also a violation of school board policy.

"According to the school board's own policies and procedures, if it's even suspected or there's an uncertainty of whether or not a violation might constitute an act of abuse, it should be reported, to not only law enforcement, but also to the Department of Children and Families," said Seidule.

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