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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pinellas teacher: Pelt me with cotton, please



It's old news that Sharion Thurman, the Gibbs High teacher who's set to be sanctioned by the state this week, reportedly tampered with student ballots in fall 2006 and somehow did not get fired.

But there's more to the story.

Thurman, who's still teaching and making $61,050 a year, continued pushing the envelope even after the plot to get her niece elected homecoming queen was discovered, according to state investigative records just obtained by the Gradebook.

After the revote, Gibbs principal Antelia Campbell wrote in a seven-page statement (Pages 63-69 of the above records file) that she announced the king and queen, and then stood next to Thurman while the winners were being driven around the track. She said Thurman "stated to me, 'No matter what you'll say, (name blacked out) is the queen!' I thought to myself, the nerve of this woman."

A few weeks later, Campbell wrote, "Mrs. Thurman-Reeves approached several adults in the front office and asked them if they wanted to be the first to cast a stone. Of course, they didn't know what she was talking about. So she opened her bag and had a large amount of cotton balls in small baggies. She wanted them to pick them and throw them at her."

None did, Campbell wrote. But when Thurman made the same offer in class, students responded: "Some told administrators and teachers, 'Hell, yes, I stoned her … she deserved it.' I could not believe it until I began to have students come to me concerned that she was talking about the Bible in English class and some who didn't think it was right for the students to throw things at adults."

Why does any of this matter? If you haven't noticed, teacher tenure, and the shield it has become for problem teachers, is a hot topic in places like New York City, Washington, D.C., and may even in Pinellas.

Campbell concluded her statement by saying Thurman should have been recommended for firing: "If she would do this with homecoming votes, I can't even begin to imagine the creative grading that is taking place in her classroom, which is also a great concern of students and parents. It is difficult for students to learn from someone who is so untrustworthy and dishonest."

Ron Matus, State Education Reporter


[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:12am]


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