As a Teacher, Florida Dem Senate Hopeful 'Slammed' Student to Ground

Joshua Weil also tormented female colleague, who said behavior made her 'very uncomfortable'

Joshua Weil / YouTube
March 3, 2022

As a public school teacher, a Florida Democrat received a suspension after he "slammed" a student to the ground, employment records obtained by the Washington Free Beacon show.

Joshua Weil launched his Senate campaign against Republican Marco Rubio in December 2020, touting his status as "a proud father, a high school math teacher, and Florida's progressive choice for U.S. Senate in 2022." Employment records from Weil's time at Orlando's Orange Youth Academy, however, show that the Democrat's teaching background may impair his quest for federal office, not strengthen it.

According to emails obtained by the Free Beacon, Weil faced a three-day suspension in July 2015 after he "slammed" a student to the ground. The school's incident report confirms the ordeal, stating Weil "grabbed student by neck, threw to ground, left bruise on student's head." In an interview with school officials, Weil described the student as "one of the smaller kids in the class" and acknowledged that he "picked him up by his collar" and "brought him to the ground." While Weil claimed he only engaged because the student was "slapping and hitting" him, the student said he merely "grabbed Mr. Weil's arm to speak to him," according to school records.

Weil campaign spokeswoman Angelize Colon said Weil "continues to have great regret to this day" over the incident. She said the school's "staff and security" were "unable to respond" after the student began "striking" Weil, who then "attempted to restrain the student to the best of his abilities." Colon also noted Weil's suspension was "retroactively reduced" to one day.

But the incident was not the first time Weil was subject to a complaint as an Orange Youth Academy teacher. According to a March 2015 email, Weil repeatedly tormented a female colleague, who said the behavior made her "very uncomfortable" and negatively impacted her work. On multiple occasions, the colleague said, Weil used a "stick" to physically "prod" her. Weil would also block the teacher's "doorway with his body" to prevent her from leaving her classroom—during one incident, records show, Weil told his colleague she "couldn't leave" and physically "poked" her as she tried to unlock her door. On another occasion, Weil accessed his colleague's computer to change her screensaver to a picture of himself, which she called an "invasion of my privacy."

"I am very uncomfortable with him touching me and I am also very uncomfortable having to put my hands on him to push out of doorways," the female employee wrote. "Last night … I was too excited to sleep because I knew he wasn't going to be at work today. … I should be happy to come to work every day, not just on days he's not going to be here."

Colon described the issue as "the type of workplace tension that happens from time to time, particularly in stressful environments, and was documented for posterity as it was quickly reconciled." She added that Weil "respects and appreciates" the colleague in question "for voicing the discomfort she was experiencing so that air could be cleared, and she would no longer have to feel that way." Orange County Public Schools, which includes Orange Youth Academy, did not return a request for comment.

Following his suspension, Weil continued working at Orange Youth Academy for two years, his LinkedIn states. In September 2018, he secured a new teaching job in the Osceola County School District.

Roughly two years later, Weil launched his campaign to unseat Rubio. In a video that he appeared to film in his classroom, Weil said he decided to run because he is a "deeply concerned father" who sees "so much that is wrong in our country," including "the walls we build to divide and control people" and "the obstacles we set up to maintain an ever-widening caste system."

Weil's platform consists of a number of left-wing policy positions. His Twitter account boasts that he supports Medicare for All and a universal basic income, and his campaign site calls for a "reparations program" that would cost "a minimum of $20 trillion." Weil also wants to eliminate student debt, decriminalize sex work and "all drug-related offenses," ensure "access to puberty blockers for trans kids," and lift "all current sanctions and embargoes currently in effect on other nations, chief among them our neighboring nation of Cuba." In a June 2021 tweet, meanwhile, Weil accused Israel of "genocide."

Weil faces an uphill battle in his bid to challenge Rubio in November 2021. He will first have to emerge from a crowded Democratic primary, which is led by congresswoman Val Demings. As of Dec. 31, Demings has raised more than $20 million to Weil's $27,000.