Fired teacher who allegedly gyrated on student's lap loses professional certificate

Elise Solé
A Florida teacher who was fired for sitting on the lap of a student has also lost her teaching certificate. (Photo: Northwest Florida Daily News)

A teacher who was fired for allegedly gyrating on a student’s lap has temporarily lost her teaching certificate.

A photo of Amanda Varnum, a teacher at Laurel Hill School, in Laurel Hill, Fla., sitting on the lap of an 18-year-old student got her fired in November. The photo was taken by a student and published by the Northwest Florida Daily News in March. During an October investigation, students told the Okaloosa County School district that Varnum sat on a student’s lap during class “for months” and would sometimes “move around” while seated, reported the NWF Daily News. Another student said the teacher “joked about ρenis size” with two male classmates. 

According to school district documents received by the NWF Daily News, nine different photos showed Varnum in various situations, sitting on the teen’s lap behind a podium and sitting while the student straddled her. The newspaper reported that Varnum denied sitting on the student’s lap and that her students were just angry with her about their senior school trip. She also claimed that she had “backed into” the student and had asked him to move (which another student corroborated).

“Ms. Varnum is playful, so student (redacted) probably did not take her seriously,” read testimony from one of the 10 students interviewed, according to the NWF Daily News. Others said they saw Varnum sit on the student’s lap every day. And a student said the other student had an erection after Varnum sat on his lap “for the entire class period.”

The papers include an admission from the student that Varnum briefly sat on his lap and that he took a photo of her butt and sent it to school basketball players. However, he said that Varnum was not inappropriate with him, and the student’s mother said the actions were exaggerated.

On Wednesday, the  NWF Daily News reported that Varnum lost her teaching certificate for a period of one year (until Sept. 13, 2019), following a Department of Education commission that reviews educator violations. Varnum was also ordered to pay a $750 fine and enroll in a classroom-management course.

In March, Michele Nicholson of the  Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office told NWF Daily News there was no evidence that Varnum had a romantic relationship with students and there were no criminal violations. Representatives from the police department, Laurel Hill, and Okaloosa County Schools did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.

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