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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

For this Pinellas teacher, does the (proposed) punishment fit the crime?



Pinellas Superintendent Julie Janssen is recommending that a Walsingham Elementary school teacher be suspended for 10 days without pay because she permitted two of her students to clean urine off the floor and toilet of the classroom bathroom.

According to information in the school board's latest agenda packet, Michelle Demita asked for volunteers to help clean the restroom after she had a class discussion about complaints that some students were urinating on the toilet seat and flor. Without hesitation, two students said okay.

A parent later complained to the principal, and one of the students told a school administrator he cleaned the toilet bowl inside and out using his bare hands and paper towels.

Demita said she didn't see the students while they were cleaning. But at some point, she decided she used poor judgement, told the students to exit and directed them to wash their hands with anti-bacterial soap. She later "apologized to the parent and acknowledged she used poor judgment."

A Pinellas teacher since 1992, Demita has never been disciplined before. Janssen's recommendation says Demita violated several school board policies, including "exposing a student to unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement" and "conduct unbecoming a board employee that brings the district disrepute."

The board on Tuesday will also consider five other disciplinary actions against employees, including administrator Janet Hernandez. Jansseen is recommending termination for:

* A Pinellas Secondary teacher who allegedly played inappropriate music for her students, looked for a job as an instructor on Craig's List and was house hunting on line - all during instructional time.

* A Skycrest Elementary teacher who has missed 16 work days this school year (as of Nov. 15) after being written up four times for absenteeism since September 2008.

* A Leila Davis Elementary teacher has been tardy 21 times since Aug. 21 after being written up four times for excessive tardiness since January 2009. (According to the agenda packet, the teacher "does not believe her frequent tardiness has hurt the instructional gains of her students.")

* A bus driver who allegedly sent a note to a parent, via her daughter, that was intended to engage the parent in a personal relationship. The driver has been written up 14 times since 1998.

[Last modified: Thursday, December 2, 2010 9:04am]


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