A controversial Florida high school teacher, who dubbed herself ‘biology bombshell,’ has resigned before the district could fire her after being accused by a group of girls of making inappropriate comments about her personal life, discussing teenage boys’ bodies and joking about having sex with students.
Tiffany Johnson, 39, has left Howard W Blake High School in Tampa Bay after more than five years teaching biology there, citing unspecified ‘personal reasons.’ She was not charged with any crime.
‘It was clear that Ms. Johnson on many occasions made inappropriate comments and overall did not conduct herself in a professional manner,’ a spokesperson for the Tampa Bay School District told the Tampa Bay Times, which broke this story. ‘As our district was moving toward termination, Ms. Johnson resigned.’
Johnson’s departure came months after Madisyn Slater, a senior at the school, first raised the alarm about the teacher’s outrageous classroom antics, which allegedly included telling students she was not wearing underwear, wondering aloud about the size of a student’s penis, and discussing her vibrator.
Biology teacher Tiffany Johnson, 39, left Howard Blake High School in Tampa this spring, after being accused by a group of female students of making inappropriate comments in class
Johnson was a polarizing figure at the high school, where some students loved her, while others thought her to be outrageous
In her February 2021 email to School Superintendent Addison Davis, Slater said she has been hearing stories about Johnson from her peers for four years, and urged officials to look into it.
Davis wrote back, thanking Slater for speaking out and assuring that the district would look into her complaint ‘immediately.’
Sure enough, just days later she was called down to the assistant principal’s office and asked to fill out an official witness statement, along with her friend Jessica Chapa.
Chapa, who had Johnson as a teacher, recounted her inappropriate comments, including how she could not wait until her students turned 18, presumably so they could consent to sex with her.
Soon, more female students came forward with tales detailing Johnson’s seemingly boundary-crossing conduct.
Senior Madisyn Slater was the first student to complain about Johnson back in February, ultimately leading to a district investigation and a criminal investigation
One girl claimed that the teacher would talk to her about her sex life and show her photos of men on her phone, while another recounted how on one occasion, a boy asked Johnson to touch her breasts, and she let him. That same girl, Rebeca Braukman, also said that the 39-year-old biology teacher had discussed the sensitivity of her nipples in class.
A third girl, Angelica Ayala, told Chapa how one time, Johnson had confided in her about a trip to a male strip club and showed her a photo of a dancer’s penis. After that, Ayala said she decided to keep her distance from the teacher as much as she could without having to skip class.
Like Chapa, Ayala also said that Johnson would joke about having sex with a student after graduation.
Even as students were gathering statements documenting Johnson’s conduct, she continued teaching.
In a conversation with Principal Jesse Salters, Slater, the initial whistleblower, called him out for failing to place Johnson on an administrative leave while the district investigated the complaints against her.
Senior William Ward in September tweeted this photo of his biology worksheet, with Johnson’s response to his ‘D***’ comment written in pink marker
Slater said the principal was upset with her for going behind his back to the superintendent, and noted that some students love Johnson and want to be in her class, and that he cannot fire her just because others do not like her.
Johnson was hired to teach biology at the school in 2015. At a banquet in Tampa Bay last year, she was honored as an outstanding teacher who ‘fosters a positive student-teacher relationship within her classroom.’
More than a dozen students would go on to submit letters supporting Johnson.
Girls at Blake High School were not the only ones scandalized by Johnson’s penchant for sexual innuendo. Some male students said they also found her remarks inappropriate and ‘icky.’
Conol Vassar told the Times he ‘did not feel safe’ in her classroom after Johnson repeatedly joked about his genitals and tell him, ‘I wonder how big yours is.’
Jessica Chapa (left), who had Johnson as a teacher, recounted her inappropriate comments, including how she could not wait until her students turned 18. Rebeca Braukman (right) claimed that a boy asked Johnson to touch her breasts, and she let him
Senior William Ward recounted how one time he scribbled the word ‘d***’ on his worksheet, and he said Johnson wrote next to it: ‘only on weekends.’ He saved that sheet of paper and tweeted it in September.
In March, a district investigators arrived to question the students about Johnson, and later officers with the Tampa Bay Police Department showed up at the school to conduct their own investigation into the complaints about the teacher.
Johnson was removed from the classroom in April and interview the following month by the district investigator.
She admitted to making some of the inappropriate comments mentioned by Slater and the other students, but argued that in many cases her words have been taken out of contexts and misconstrued.
Johnson also acknowledged talking about not wearing underwear, but claimed it was said as part of a lesson on vaginal health.
Likewise, Johnson admitted to jokingly telling students they would have to wait until they’re 18 to have sex with her.
However, she denied ever showing photos of men she had had sex with, talking about her nipples or discussing her sex life.
Rebeca Braukman’s freshman year biology notebook with a mnemonic ‘dirty kinky people come over for group sex’ to help remember taxonomic order
The report summing up the internal investigation reached no conclusions.
Meanwhile, a detective from the Tampa Bay police department interviewed the student who was said to have asked to touch Johnson’s breasts. He said he did not remember what happened, but he said the teacher had once allowed him to poke her buttocks.
Johnson, however, denied letting any student touch her.
A female student who was interviewed by the police detective said that Johnson would mentioned her vibrator, nicknamed BOB for ‘battery-operated boyfriend,’ in class.
Ultimately, the detective concluded that while Johnson’s conduct in same instances could be construed as being ‘not within the societal standards expected of a high school teacher,’ she did not commit any criminal offenses.
As for Slater, who had gone to war against Johnson and encouraged her girlfriends to speak out, she had received two suspensions, was charged with petty theft after being found in possession of a coach’s badge, and was barred from campus.
A district spokesperson denied that Slater had been targeted for retaliation.