Teacher Accuses Coworkers of Sprinkling Her With 'Holy Water' Because She's an Atheist

The two teachers have been reassigned to other jobs in Broward County.

ByEmily Friedman
May 25, 2010, 1:54 PM

May 25, 2010 — -- Two Florida teachers have been put on desk duty after a fellow teacher accused them of sprinkling "holy water" on her because she's an atheist.

Leslie Rainer and Djuna Robinson, 20-year veterans of the Broward County School District, said a complaint from teacher Schandra Rodriguez led to their being escorted out of the Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, Fla., in front of their students.

Rodriguez claimed in the complaint that Rainer and Robinson had poured "holy water" over her in front of students who were discussing religion, according to Marsy Smith, a school district spokeswoman.

"The two teachers have been administratively reassigned pending the outcome of the investigation," Smith said "They've been assigned to a different function within the county but away from students."

Smith declined to go into more detail about the incident, citing an ongoing investigation by the Broward County School Board.

But Rainer's and Robinson's attorney, Johnny McCray, said the allegations are puzzling because no liquid of any kind was ever poured on Rodriguez.

No criminal charges have been filed.

Messages left at Rodriguez's Pompano Beach home were not immediately returned. ABC News' Miami affiliate WPLG received no answer when it knocked on her door.

"The allegation that Ms. Robinson threw holy water on anyone is absolutely false," McCray said.

Teachers Claim 'Holy Water' Comment Was a Joke

Rainer was standing in the classroom when the incident occurred, McCray said. Both Rainer and Robinson are self-proclaimed Christians.

On March 11, the classroom of students was discussing the recent earthquake in Haiti when the conversation turned to religion, McCray said.

"One of the kids made a statement that Ms. Rodriguez is an atheist and Ms. Rodriguez said, 'I don't deny that,'" McCray said. "Then some of the students starting saying that, 'It looks like someone needs to sprinkle Ms. Rodriguez with some holy water.'"

It was then, McCray said, that Robinson came to the doorway that adjoins her classroom with Rodriguez's with a bottle of perfume.

"Ms. Robinson obtained a little bottle with some perfume in it in jest, and the students will all confirm she never went close to Miss Rodriguez," McCray said. "Ms. Rodriguez was on the other side of the classroom and that was basically it."

McCray said he has interviewed several students who were present during the incident and they "deny that any holy water was sprinkled on Rodriguez."

He also said the three teachers all sat and had lunch together later that same day, a gathering, he added, that would not have happened if Rodriguez had been as upset as she later claimed to be in a complaint to the school.

Rainer and Robinson were unavailable to comment beyond a news conference with their lawyer Monday at which Robinson told reporters, "I miss my students, I miss them a lot."

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