ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A local teacher in one of the highest-performing school districts in the state is on leave with pay for allegedly driving while drunk with drugs in his truck.
Deputies arrested Saint Augustine High School English teacher John Blackford, 50, on Saturday for DUI and marijuana possession.
Last year, Action News Jax told you when Blackford garnered national attention for giving out a quiz containing controversial questions.
“That’s not a good role model for our kids,” said Saint Augustine High parent Cindy Kurtz. “I think that he should probably go get the help that he obviously needs and find a different place to work.”
The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said Blackford was driving with a blood alcohol content nearly three times the legal limit and had less than 20 grams of marijuana in his truck.
Action News Jax went to his home to hear his side of the story.
“Why are you here?” Blackford said as our crew was walking up.
“(We’re) just wondering if you have any comment on the DUI arrest,” Action News Jax reporter Russell Colburn asked.
.@ActionNewsJax: “Just wondering if you have any comment on the DUI arrest?”
John Blackford: “No, I have no comment whatsoever.”
Local teacher accused of driving drunk with drugs in the truck.
How you may already know him: https://t.co/DGq8jo8HpX https://t.co/uwGys52FKm pic.twitter.com/OMYvQ9eJBx
— Russell Colburn (@RussellANjax) November 20, 2019
“No, I have no comment whatsoever,” Blackford said.
“You’re a teacher,” Colburn said. “What would you say to students and parents?”
“I’d say, ‘No comment,'” Blackford said.
Last year, the St. Johns County School District sent Blackford a letter of discipline for his controversial quiz.
One fill-in-the-blank question on the quiz read, in part, “the vocal and angry right wing forced the nation to make a complete (blank) embracing bigotry, xenophobia, and sexism.”
On Tuesday, he heard from the school district again, with a letter stating he’s on disciplinary leave with pay, pending a human resources investigation.
“Everybody makes mistakes, but he definitely needs to get some help, and when he does, we can see if he can come back and teach then,” said Saint Augustine High parent Meredith Stroud.
The notice states Blackford can’t come to the high school or to any school district property unless directed.
The school district said that after that human resources investigation in completed, the superintendent will make a punishment recommendation to the school board, which will have the final say.
Parents are not part of the process directly, but they’re welcome to reach out to their board member or the superintendent to voice their opinion.
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