NICEVILLE — It was a full house Monday night for the Okaloosa County School Board meeting, with a majority of the audience there to support Shalimar Elementary School guidance counselor Sharen Burt.

Burt was arrested Jan. 28 and charged for failing to call the Department of Children and Families child abuse hotline when a 5-year-old student reported being sexually assaulted.

Additionally, three Silver Sands School employees were arrested and charged on the same day as Burt but in a separate case. All four employees were to receive pay while suspended until Monday's School Board meeting, when requests were made for unpaid suspensions.

Dozens of attendees at Monday’s school board meeting wore homemade buttons reading, “I Support Sharen Burt,” including Fort Walton Beach Chiropractor and City Council member Scott Smith, who was first to approach the school board in Burt’s behalf.

“My encouragement to the board is towards support of continuing pay through her suspension,” Smith said, citing Burt as a 21-year school employee and military spouse. “Seventy-five percent of the audience here today, that is why we are here.”

The School Board still voted for unpaid suspensions of all four employees.

A longtime family friend of Burt’s, Scott Wolfe, said that he felt the board had already made up their minds before the meeting, making the audience’s show of support a moot case.

“I captured the word ‘consistent’ repeatedly … but it seems like that decision had already been made prior to this meeting,” Wolfe said to the board. “Is there an opportunity to speak prior to the board voting on situations?"

Chairman Lamar White answered that each case was discussed at length during Thursday's workshop, four days before the meeting.

“There is an opportunity there as well,” White said. “But there was no pre-decision on this particular matter. We made that decision right here, tonight at this table when we voted.”

After the meeting a group of Burt supporters mingled outside of the building.

“It seems like a majority of the decisions were made in the workshop on Thursday,” Wolfe told the Daily News. “Mr. White said they voted on it right then and there, but I think the discussions were made prior to that, so my question was, if we want to influence that, give a character reference, when would have been a better time to do that, and that time would have been at the Thursday meeting I think.”