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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Judges often side with teachers



Scales of justice II Pinellas teacher Porsha Call – who Superintendent Julie Janssen wants to fire for incompetence – has elected to roll the dice and take her case to an administrative law judge.

The legal odds suggest she made a smart move.

Since 2004, administrative judges have sided with teachers and other school employees in 27 of 65 cases, or 42 percent of the time, according to the teacher cases currently listed on the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings Web site.

Most cases – 84 of 149 by our count – were settled, dismissed or withdrawn before a judge made a decision. Another 55 are in the pipeline.

All of them could use a closer look.

Are districts losing so many cases because – as some critics suggest – administrators are not doing a good job documenting problems? Or are they losing because judges far removed from classrooms are making decisions about who is and isn’t a good teacher?

There are so few cases, it may be hard to draw conclusions. But maybe that’s an issue too: Perhaps many districts don’t aggressively pursue problem teachers because they know their chances in the legal system are only so-so.

To take a look at the cases yourself, go to the DOAH site and click on “Case Search.” Scroll down to “Division,” then click and scroll down to “Teacher Termination or Suspension.”

(Image from

- Ron Matus, state education reporter

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:30am]


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