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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida Board of Education makes it easier to get rid of teachers

Without comment, the Florida State Board of Education last week adopted a rule revising the definition of "just cause," making it easier for school districts to get rid of teachers.

Lawmakers forced one of the major changes by adopting Senate Bill 736 last year. That bill, Gov. Rick Scott's first to become law, allows districts to dismiss teachers for repeated poor performance evaluations. The rule also makes it so "excessive absences or tardies" are an accepted reason for firing (the revision is the addition of the word "excessive").

Another revision allows districts to get rid of teachers who cannot "communicate appropriately with and relate to colleagues, administrators, subordinates or parents."  Deputy chancellor Kathy Hebda said this provision was refined because districts in the past had trouble dealing with teachers whose behavior was unacceptable outside of the classroom, or even the school, yet negatively impacted their work environment.

Overall, Hebda said the rule really wasn't so much a complete overhaul as a refinement. Many of the provisions in it were in other parts of rule, Hebda explained, but not all in one place. The newer pieces were necessary, she added, as the state had not updated the rule since 1983.

Time will tell if it leads to more teacher firings — particularly as districts implement their new state-mandated evaluations this year.

[Last modified: Monday, May 14, 2012 6:30am]


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