Arnold H.S. Teacher on Administrative Leave Accused of Abusing and Mocking Students

By: Bryan Anderson Email
By: Bryan Anderson Email

Panama City- The Bay District School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to place Arnold High School teacher Keith Christie on unpaid administrative leave. This comes after serious accusations first surfaced in March alleging he twice threatened an autistic student and made class members act like pigs for poor performance.

"It's disgusting, it's disgusting. This is exactly the type of thing you don't want to have happen in a classroom," said Bay School District Superintendent Bill Husfelt.

School officials met with Christie on April 9th to discuss the situation. Personnel records showed they gave him the option to resign and he agreed, but last week he changed his mind.

"At that point we suspended him with pay, which is what the superintendent can do, and then brought it before the school board today (Tuesday) to suspend him without pay," said Bay School District Executive Director of Human Resources and Employee Support Services Sharon Michalik.

A look at Christie's personnel file may make some wonder how he made it into a classroom in the first place. He was arrested four times between 1987 and 2004 on charges ranging from domestic battery and burglary to DUI.

He began substitute teaching in 2004, but the state's Department of Education denied his first application for a teaching certificate in 2005. He reapplied and was successful.

Then in 2008, Arnold's principal at the time John Haley reprimanded Christie for sending a derogatory mass email calling his colleagues criminals. He also criticized Haley for not reporting soccer scores fast enough, saying he realizes "soccer was not a black man's sport like basketball." Haley is black.

Now with this latest incident adding to Christie's history of questionable behavior, Husfelt said he wants him fired.

"When that kind of issue happens it's just intolerable, especially when it's special needs children," said Husfelt.

Christie has three weeks to request a hearing before an administrative law judge before school officials move forward with his termination. Neither Christie nor his lawyer returned News Channel 7's calls Tuesday.


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