“Repeated and documented policy violations” as well as the findings of a grand jury investigation provided Okaloosa County School Superintendent Marcus Chambers the justification he felt he needed to terminate former School District spokesman Henry Kelley.

It was Andy Johnson’s “evasive and contradictory sworn testimony” before the same grand jury that made Chambers decide Johnson, Mary Beth Jackson’s program director of Student Services, Discipline and Athletics, needed to go.

Chambers, who Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed superintendent Jan. 11 after he suspended Jackson from office, announced Jan. 28 his intention to terminate Kelley and Johnson. That same night the Okaloosa County School Board voted 5-0 to support Chambers’ decision.

“While initially I had no plans of making any immediate personnel moves, I feel compelled to do so in these instances,” Chambers said in a news release announcing the firings.

Letters sent to Kelley and Johnson spelling out Chambers’ rationale for firing them were released to the Northwest Florida Daily News late Thursday.

Chambers informed Kelley that he decided to fire him “based upon your employment history with the District.”

He noted that Kelley had been reprimanded on Nov. 10, 2017, and handed a letter of guidance five days later. The disciplinary actions were taken after Kelley failed to follow School District interviewing and hiring processes and ignoring guidelines for responding to public records requests.

Kelley got himself in trouble when he tried to hire a secretary of community affairs without following proper procedure by interviewing all eligible candidates. “Several applicants who met all of the eligibility requirements ... were not provided interviews,” Jackson said in her letter of reprimand.

The letter also takes into account Kelley’s “unprofessional text messages that you sent to a private citizen” as a consideration in the decision to terminate him. Destin resident Steve Menchel filed a formal complaint against Kelley following a heated exchange of messages.

Kelley’s actions “caused harm and embarrassment to the District,” Chambers’ letter said.

The letter further notes that Kelley was charged for a violation of the Florida Sunshine Law after the grand jury criticized him for releasing confidential and exempt documents to a television reporter.

It states “despite the District’s efforts to improve your behavior and performance” Kelley again received counseling Jan. 19 for a misstep dealing with “contact with the public.”

“I consider these repeated and documented policy violations and the determination of the grand jury to constitute just cause for your termination,” Chambers’ letter states.

Johnson’s dismissal was based solely on the testimony he provided to a grand jury impaneled early last year to investigate dysfunction within the Jackson-run School District.

Johnson served as the liaison between the district and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office at the time the Sheriff’s Office was investigating allegations of child abuse at Kenwood Elementary School. Those allegations would eventually lead to three arrests and break open the scandal that ultimately resulted in Jackson’s suspension.

The grand jury stated in its report that when testifying, Johnson “frequently answered that he could not remember” and “gave answers that were inconsistent with previous statements.”

“While we do not find his behavior before the grand jury criminal, we do find it concerning and worthy of note in this report,” the grand jury's report said.

Chambers quoted the grand jury report in his letter to Johnson.

“As you know, District Policy 09-11 requires you to uphold the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct. Moreover, you are also required to uphold the duties, code of ethics and principles of professional conduct of the education profession,” Chambers said. "Accordingly ... just cause exists for your immediate removal.”

Kelley and Johnson have until Feb. 19 to appeal their firings. Though Kelley "has indicated to the District that he intends to appeal" neither he nor Johnson had done so as of Friday, according to School District spokesman Steven Horton.