Broward News

Embattled Marjory Stoneman Douglas Teacher Bypassed Campus Security, Yelled at Administrators

In September 2015, social studies teacher Fran Wernersbach was reassigned from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High while the school district investigated a slew of allegations against her, including that she'd ridiculed her class, sworn at administrators, and spread rumors about a student. She was told to contact the principal if she needed to set foot on campus, because her daughter was a student.

But on February 26, 2016, according to a report from the Florida Department of Education, she showed up unannounced and barged into the security specialist's office, where her daughter was in a meeting. Even after the girl was allowed to leave, Wernersbach remained, shouting at the others in the office. Ultimately, she had to be "physically removed from the doorway," the report says.

Now, thanks to that disruption and the other allegations, the teacher first hired by the Broward County School District in 2005 has been placed on a three-year probation by the Department of Education, which also issued her a letter of reprimand.

"By your actions, you have lessened the reputation of all who practice our profession and have diminished your position as an educational leader," the Education Practices Commission wrote in the reprimand. "The profession cannot condone your actions, nor can the public who employ us."

Wernersbach did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Under the settlement, she doesn't admit or deny the allegations — instead, she chose not to contest them.

According to the Department of Education, she engaged in "inappropriate behavior of disparaging or embarrassing comments or actions" during the 2013-14 and 2015-16 school years. That includes spreading a rumor about a female student's interest in a male teacher and harassing a student by "using racial differences" to ridicule her crush on another student.

Wernersbach also sought out an ROTC instructor to share her concerns about a male student who was dating a female ROTC student. The female student, she said, was troubled and had drug and alcohol issues. Wernersbach had done the same a year earlier when the male student was dating another girl.

On another occasion, after becoming upset with her students, Wernersbach yelled, "Half of you will end up in prison!" and "Why are you even in school?" When one of the students told her that her comments weren't right, she responded, "What is your GPA, a 1-something?" and added, "Some kids in this class already have criminal charges," knowing that a student had been arrested weeks earlier.

Wernersbach's wrath wasn't limited to students. The Department of Education says she also called other educators obscene names, often in the presence of students. She called her colleagues things such as "little fuck" and "fucking little shit" and told them they were "going down" because she was "a Brooklyn girl," the report says.

As part of her discipline, she'll be monitored in her next teaching job and required to take a class on education ethics.