Summer 2011 Poultry Press NEXT
Florida Department of Education Denies UPC’s Petition to Develop and Implement Humane Education Rules for Florida’s Public Schools
chicken bashing

On April 14, 2011, the Florida Department of Education denied the formal Petition for Agency Action filed in March by United Poultry Concerns and Humane Educators Reaching Out. Prepared by animal law attorney Adam P. Karp, the Petition requested the Department of Education to develop and enforce specific rules implementing Florida’s humane education laws.

Our Petition was prompted by a highly publicized cruelty episode at Hawthorne High School in Alachua County, Florida near Gainesville, on April 15, 2009. On that day, two Hawthorne students, Robert Gordon and Patrick Dougan, bashed a live chicken to the ground for fun, videotaped the episode, and posted it on the Internet. The police report that followed included a description of the horrific killings that were meanwhile being conducted inside the school, under the direction of Future Farmers of America teacher Allen Shaw, who students said “had his back turned” while they were decapitating live birds, “popping” their necks, and exercising their cruelty. Shaw reportedly was teaching his students the neck “popping” (cervical dislocation) killing technique, and everyone was throwing the suffering, mutilated chickens into buckets where they struggled until they died.

Although Dougan and Gordon were arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty, and UPC president Karen Davis was set to testify at their trial, the charges were subsequently dropped by the Florida State Attorney’s Office.

Thereafter, UPC engaged attorney Adam P. Karp to prepare and submit the 79-page Petition for Agency Action (or Rulemaking), which was denied by the Florida Department of Education, claiming these reasons:

1) The Petitioners UPC and HERO have No Standing. “No Standing” is a frequently invoked legal blockage in animal cruelty cases whereby petitioners are said to lack “substantial interest in the rule requested” and to have failed to demonstrate that they themselves “have suffered an injury of the type the Petition is designed to protect.”

2) Current Florida Laws Prohibit Animal Cruelty. However, in this case and countless others, these laws did not punish the perpetrators for animal cruelty, nor does this law prevent the Department of Education from developing its own legal mandates and penalties to ensure that animal cruelty does not take place in Florida’s public schools. As Adam Karp wrote following the Commissioner’s Order of Rejection: “What the Commissioner ignores is that even without the Hawthorne High video of cruelty, the entire classroom exercise violates state law prohibiting dissection/vivisection in the schools.” The department also claimed that the chicken abuse at Hawthorne High School happened two years earlier and was therefore too remote in time for review, which is ridiculous and basically boils down to: they didn’t want to bother.

At this writing, United Poultry Concerns has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the Alachua County Superintendent of Public Schools and the Principal of Hawthorne High School for all records relating to courses past, present and future in which chickens or other animals were, are, or will be intentionally injured or killed by students and/or their teachers including any or all documents authorizing a “broiler” chicken class or similar animal-killing/injury class in 2012. The records we receive will determine our future course of action.

adam karp
Attorney Adam Karp at our Rally in Orlando, March 31
susan hargreaves
Susan Hargreaves of HERO at
our Rally in Orlando, March 31
what_can_i_do (10K)
Although the Florida Department of Education rejected our Petition, they now know that many people care and are watching. We thank our supporters for the hundreds of emails and hand-written letters you’ve already sent to the department and related agencies about this matter. We encourage you to continue to express your opposition to students being instructed to injure and kill animals in Florida’s public schools. Let the Florida Department of Education know how disappointed you are in their refusal to establish clear regulations implementing Florida’s humane education laws, which the department has the authority to do. Ask what exactly they intend to do to insure that Florida students – and their teachers – are being taught to respect and protect chickens and other animals instead of hurting and killing animals and exercising their violent and abusive tendencies behind a mask of “agriculture.” Request a written response to your concerns. Contact:

Commissioner of Department of Education
Office of the Commissioner
Turlington Bldg., Suite 1514
325 West Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Phone: 850-245-0505
Fax: 850-245-9667

For more information about our Florida campaign, please see the Spring-Summer issue of Poultry Press or go to

Summer 2011 Poultry Press NEXT