Florida Department of Education fires employee for removing SeaWorld from list on website

Posted at 2:54 PM, Oct 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-16 14:54:00-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Education pushed out a top staff member at the agency after the woman approved removing references to SeaWorld from the agency website.

An animal rights group requested in September that the agency remove SeaWorld from its list of fun field trips and teacher discounts. Emails show that the issue was discussed among several officials including department attorneys.

Jennifer Hartshorne, the deputy communications director, approved taking down the SeaWorld references. But the department fired her after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals heralded the decision. The SeaWorld references were reinstated after press inquiries.

Meghan Collins, who was Hartshorne's boss, maintains Education Commissioner Pam Stewart was unaware of the decision to scrub the website.

Department emails show a former top aide to Gov. Rick Scott and lobbyist for SeaWorld reached out to department officials about the issue.

Hartshorne's ouster was first reported by The Orlando Sentinel.