Sebastian River High School ‘Coach Joe’ Cleared By Judge

Joseph Nathaniel, also known as Coach Joe, may be on his way back to work at Sebastian River High School.
Joseph Nathaniel, also known as Coach Joe, may be on his way back to work at Sebastian River High School.

SEBASTIAN, Florida – Sebastian River High School teacher Joseph Nathaniel, also known as Coach Joe, may be on his way back to work.

In November 2015, Nathaniel was accused of taunting and pushing a disruptive student at the Sebastian River High School.

Superintendent Mark Rendell claims Nathaniel escalated the situation. In January 2016, Rendell recommended that the teacher and coach be fired, but instead, the board suspended him until a state judge could hear the case.

“Coach Joe” got his day in court more than a year later. John G. Van Laningham, administrative law judge with the state Division of Administrative Hearings, condemned Rendell’s recommendation.

“Fortunately for Sebastian River High School, Coach Joe had the fortitude to stand tall, roll up his sleeves and do the tough job of keeping a foul-mouthed, defiant and violently aggressive student from causing further damage,” Van Laningham wrote. “For this he should be given a pat on the back, not a pink slip.”

The judge’s recommendation does not guarantee that Nathaniel will get his job back at the school, but the board must reconsider his position at a future meeting if there are no objections.

Current School Board Chairman Charles Searcy has asked Rendell to bring Nathaniel’s case back to the board as quickly as possible.

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About Scott Lee
Scott Lee is a columnist and reporter for Sebastian Daily. Scott moved to Indian River County in 2015 and has been writing for various publications for approximately 30 years. Currently, he writes part-time and manages a featured column about local businesses in Sebastian and Vero Beach.
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