Students, parents and staff at the Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida, are reeling in shock after school officials announced Thursday that a popular Bible teacher and soccer coach was fired for having an “inappropriate relationship” with a student.
“On Tuesday, in keeping with legal and our own internal reporting guidelines, TCA reported an inappropriate relationship between a high school teacher and high school student to our local law enforcement,” the school confirmed in a statement to The Christian Post on Friday morning.
“In addition to the reporting, we have terminated the employment of the teacher. We are deeply saddened by this situation, because it is so far removed from the standards and values to which we hold our faculty and embrace as a school. We are committed to offering care and support for the student and all families impacted,” it ended.
While the school did not reveal any further details on the teacher, James Baltz, a former student who now works at the school told News4Jax that the fired teacher was a Bible teacher and soccer coach who was popular among students.
"When I heard about it, I was in complete, like, all in shock," Baltz said. "It's just completely awful that it happened in this environment, especially a Christian environment."
Students like Baemnet Abetew, a 12th-grader, revealed that news of the teacher’s firing had rippled through the entire school community.
"It did shock me. I didn’t think anything like this would happen here," Abetew said. "It is scary because it's something that could have happened to me."
Zarek Jones, a soccer player who was coached by the fired teacher, told First Coast News that: "We thought he was cool. We'd go to his classroom and eat lunch there."
He said he knows the female student who was involved with his coach but his teammates thought they were “just friends.”
"We thought they were just friends," Jones said.
"I know he shouldn't have done this," he added. "I don't know whether to be mad or sad, but he taught us not to do stuff like this."
Auna Nix, a parent whose son attends the school, called the situation heartbreaking.
"It just scares me as a parent," she said. "But I trust the school that they're going to make the right decision."
When contacted for comment on the case Friday, the Jacksonville Police Department could not immediately provide any details on whether a report was made.
Trinity Christian Academy was founded in 1967 under the sponsorship of Trinity Baptist Church of Jacksonville “as an educational program that would provide not only the academic, social, physical, and values training, but also the spiritual training necessary for a well-rounded education,” according to their website.