A Largo High School teacher has been suspended and might be fired after she was accused of smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol with students.
Teacher Joelle Bishop on Jan. 3 allowed a male student to drive her in her car to pick up two female students and go to a friend's house, according to a memorandum from Pinellas Superintendent Michael Grego requesting Bishop's dismissal. Witnesses reported seeing Bishop, 26, drinking alcohol with the two female students and smoking marijuana in the car, the document states.
The two females admitted drinking with Bishop, according to the memorandum.
The school district's investigation concluded that Bishop violated five school board policies, including committing a criminal act/misdemeanor and having an inappropriate relationship with a student.
The Pinellas County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to suspend Bishop without pay. She has been under paid administrative leave since the investigation began.
School district police are involved in the investigation, said district spokeswoman Melanie Marquez-Parra, but Largo Police and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office are not. District police have the power to make arrests and are contracted from area law enforcement agencies.
The school board's decision came without discussion, and the board was not allowed to vote Tuesday on whether to fire Bishop because she has requested a hearing with the state Department of Administrative Hearings. The agency will make a recommendation to the school board, which will make the final decision.
A hearing date has not yet been set.
Largo High administrators started an investigation immediately after learning of the allegations, according to a prepared statement issued by Largo High. The incident happened over winter break, Parra said, so students did not report it to administrators until sometime after school resumed Jan. 7.
"I only know what was said, which was someone reported that this is what happened and she's saying it didn't happen," said school board member Rene Flowers.
Bishop was hired as a substitute teacher in May 2011 and joined Largo High's staff that August. Her current annual salary is $37,095.