A Florida teacher who’s currently under investigation for showing a Disney film to her students is finally speaking out.
In an attempt to give her students a break after a long day of standardized testing, fifth-grade teacher Jenna Barbee showed her class Disney’s Strange World, an animated feature film that fills the Clades, a family of adventurers and explorers. But according to a tweet by her friend, Barbee received a certified letter from the Florida Department of Education, letting her know that an investigation had been opened, pursuant to Florida State Statute 1012.796, because of her decision to show students the film.
“My friend showed Disney’s Strange World in a Florida classroom, and one student reported it to their parents,” Carl Zee tweeted. “Now she’s under investigation by the state. Florida is not safe for teachers, DO NOT MOVE HERE.”
My friend showed Disney’s Strange World in a Florida classroom and one student reported it to their parents. Now she’s under investigation by the state.
Florida is not safe for teachers, DO NOT MOVE HERE. pic.twitter.com/rZJPdadz28
— Carl Zee (@c350Zee) May 11, 2023
For the first time, Barbee is speaking out and sharing her “truth” about what she says took place in her classroom.
In an online video, the young fifth-grade teacher explains that she is, indeed, the teacher at the center of an investigation by the Florida Department of Education and that she’s being investigated for “indoctrination” because of her decision. In the video, Barbee says she’s a first-year teacher and a first-time mom and that she was told by her colleagues that the standard practice for showing PG-rated films in the classroom is to get signed permission forms from the parents of the students in her class.
@becomingabetterbarbee I am the teacher. Here is the truth. #indoctrination #disneymovie #disney #strangeworld #viraltweet ♬ original sound – Jenna Lynn
Barbee says she had secured those permission forms from parents at the beginning of the year, along with every other fifth-grade teacher at her school. The signed forms granted permission for Barbee to show PG-rated films in class “with no objections to specific content,” per Barbee. The only specific content objection she received was from the parent of a student who was no longer in her classroom–and that objection was only to PIXAR’s Lightyear.
Barbee says that she showed the film on a day during which students were subjected to state standardized testing. The film was shown to students who finished testing, as the young teacher was attempting to give them a “brain break” after they had worked hard on the test earlier that day. Some students finished testing before others, and in the afternoon, Barbee says that some of her students went into the classroom of another teacher to finish testing, and students who had finished testing from that teacher’s class came into Barbee’s classroom that afternoon.
She says she’s now under fire because one of the students from the other teacher’s classroom is the daughter of a school board member–a school board member that Barbee feels is “on a rampage to get rid of every form of representation” out of the school.
Barbee says she did not choose to show the film because of any agenda, but rather because she felt like it aligned with the current curriculum in earth science about ecosystems.
“My thought process was, what better way to showcase all these standards, along with huge lessons of overcoming differences, spreading kindness, communication, and chasing your dreams, a lot of which are in our social and emotional Florida Best standards as well,” Barbee said.
Barbee says that the school board member reported her to the state of Florida before ever coming to her to talk about the scenario. After the report was made, the school board member and Barbee sat down to talk, and Barbee says she understood the parent’s perspective, though she hadn’t thought about the situation like that before. But since the incident had already been reported to the State Board of Education, there’s nothing that could be done to halt the investigation.
Now Barbee awaits the conclusion of the investigation and the associated outcome. As this is still a developing story, we will share more information as it becomes available.