Four Pace High teachers return to duties after investigation concludes

Northwest Florida

PACE, Fla. (WKRG) — Four teachers who were placed on administrative leave June 8 by the Santa Rosa County School District have been allowed to return back to their teaching duties.

Stephanie Jernigan-Watson, Timothy Dillashaw, Scott Denny, and Valerie Wright were notified an investigation into their alleged inappropriate interactions with students had concluded June 23.

In emails sent to the school district, obtained by WKRG News 5, social studies teacher Stephanie Jernigan-Watson was accused of making inappropriate comments in front of student, improper supervision, and displaying a Confederate flag in her classroom. 

A letter sent to Jernigan-Watson by Santa Rosa County School District Assistant Superintendent Conni Carnley says Pace High Principal Stephen Shell conducted a site-based investigation into the allegations. 

The letter says the allegations made by former students were addressed by Shell and “brought to a resolution.” 

Jernigan-Watson told Shell the Confederate flag was used during her American History course but would not be displayed again. 

Jernigan-Watson was allowed to return to normal teaching duties June 23. 

Physical education teacher Timothy Dillashaw was accused in emails sent to Santa Rosa County School District Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick of sexually harassing female students during a “gym/weightlifting class.”

“Coach Dillashaw made me and my male peers very uncomfortable in gym/weightlifting class,” an email from a former student said. 

Dillashaw was notified he would be allowed to return back to normal teaching duties June 23 after the “allegations could not be substantiated,” a letter says. 

“Corroborating witnesses failed to cooperate or failed to return sufficient evidence to establish legal sufficiency,” the letter said. 

Scott Denny, a social studies teacher, was accused in emails sent by former students of making “inappropriate comments” in front of students. 

“Coach Denny said sexist and sexual content explicitly to my female peers in 1st period of 2018 about how women who dress a certain way ask for it,” one email reads. 

“An AP Psychology teacher (Scott Denny) (referred) to women dressed a certain way ‘to be asking for it,’” another email said.

In Denny’s letter notifying him he was allowed to resume teaching duties June 23, Carnley says the allegation was also not substantiated and there was no evidence to take action. 

Valerie Wright, a drama teacher, was accused in an email by a former student of “fat-shaming young actresses” and telling “a student to their face that they will not amount to anything.”

Wright was notified via a letter she would be allowed to return to her teaching duties on June 23. There was no evidence to take action, according to the letter from Carnley. 

A fifth Pace High School teacher, Lisa Dillashaw, was also placed on administrative leave effective June 8. She is accused of making controversial comments on Facebook in reaction to race relations in the United State following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. 

Lisa Dillashaw remains on administration leave. An investigation is ongoing. 

Wyrosdick notified the Santa Rosa County School board at Thursday’s school board meeting Jernigan-Watson, Timothy Dillashaw, Denny, and Wright have returned to their teaching duties.

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