A substitute teacher in Lake County, Florida, faces child abuse charges after allegedly letting a seventh grader hit her vape pen on school grounds.
Jennifer Gaine Hale, 50, was arrested Friday for the incident.
Two boys at Eustic Middle School were talking during the last period on Tuesday when one commented on wanting to try vaping, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by InsideLake.com.
Hale, working as a substitute teacher that day, reportedly told the students she had a nicotine vape pen. After one of the boys walked up to her desk, she pulled out what was described as “a multi-colored nicotine vape” and asked him if he wanted to “hit it,” the arrest report states.
After the boy smoked from the vape, he gave it back to her, according to reports. She allegedly told him to be careful because her pen had a salt-like substance on it, but the boy did not know what it was, according to the affidavit.
She reportedly told the boy not to tell anyone because she didn’t want to get in trouble.
Although the boy didn’t tell anyone about vaping with the sub, another student did. The next day, Eustis Middle School Principal Michael Spencer asked Hale about the incident.
Hale admitted to him that she let the student hit her vape and said it was because she was “just trying to fit in,” according to Orlando ABC affiliate WFTV TV.
Spencer then reported the incident to the Lake County School Board Human Resources Department before escorting Hale off the campus and telling her she was not allowed to return.
HuffPost contacted a number listed as Hale’s, but the call was not returned.
A Lake County School District spokeswoman told HuffPost that Hale “is no longer employed with Lake County Schools.”
In addition, she was arrested and booked into the Lake County jail on a single charge of child abuse, a third-degree felony, and was later released on a $1,000 bond.
Hale reportedly started working as a substitute teacher for the district in November 2022 and had no prior disciplinary issues.
The parents of students attending the school were shocked by the allegations.
“Teachers. It’s scary now,” Jennifer Hunter, the mother of an eighth grader at the school, told Daytona Beach NBC affiliate WESH. “I never thought that a substitute teacher would give my child that or someone else’s child any of that stuff. Just other students.”
Eustis Police Chief Craig Capri told the station, “You can’t do this. You just can’t do it. This should be common sense.”
He added: “She has a responsibility to that classroom to protect kids. Not abuse them.”