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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Accused of ballot stuffing, Pinellas teacher faces sanctions



Ballotpaper A Gibbs High teacher who reportedly stuffed a ballot box for homecoming queen is set to be sanctioned by the state this month.

Sharion Thurman allegedly tampered with student ballots in fall 2006 so her niece could be elected, according to this administrative complaint before the state Education Practices Commission. In a proposed settlement, Thurman agrees to accept two years probation and take a college level course in ethics.

She neither admits nor denies the allegations, but the complaint says she "subsequently admitted her misconduct to school officials."

Thurman's case drew "a wave of chuckles" in 2006 when it went before the Pinellas School Board, according to a St. Petersburg Times story.

Then-superintendent Clayton Wilcox said firing was an option: Her 20-year record included a number of write-ups for poor judgment, insubordination and misconduct. But because her last disciplinary action in 2005 resulted in a reprimand, and because the board urged him to use "progressive discipline" with employees, he instead recommended the next step up -- a suspension.

The board suspended Thurman for 25 days without pay. Its response drew this especially tough rebuke from the Times editorial board.

Thurman continues to teach at Gibbs. She makes $61,050 a year.

Fourteen other cases of alleged teacher misconduct from Tampa Bay go before the EPC Jan. 22-23. Click here and here for the agendas.

- Ron Matus, state education reporter

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:10am]


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