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State to consider probation for former Boca Ciega High teacher



If you want to know why some people shake their heads at "bad teachers," and some teachers shake their heads at "bad administrators," and some just shake their heads at the whole system, look no further than the case of Jerome O’Dell.

According to state records, the former math teacher at Boca Ciega High was supposed to start an introductory engineering course in 2006-'07 but never got the proper software. Instead, he winged it and gave every student an A.

Now the state Education Practices Commission will consider Nov. 5 whether O’Dell -- who is no longer teaching in Pinellas, but still has his certificate -- should be put on probation for one year, per a proposed settlement he agreed to in July.

Former superintendent Clayton Wilcox recommended in December 2007 that O’Dell be fired. The School Board suspended him without pay after he asked for an administrative hearing. The judge recommended in June 2008 that he be fired. He resigned in lieu of termination in September 2008.

Here’s one snippet from the judge’s recommended order: “Respondent testified that a typical week in his POE courses consisted of him presenting engineering definitions and PowerPoint presentations on engineering concepts to the students on Monday and Tuesday and then the students researching and working on projects the rest of the week. This testimony was partially corroborated by several of the students in the second POE class, who testified that Respondent sometimes discussed engineering concepts with the class and that they worked on definitions of engineering terms. However, the students also testified that they spent a significant amount of time in the class surfing the Internet, listening to music, working on homework from other classes, and playing Sudoku.”

Here's another snippet: “Almost all of the projects that the students recalled doing in the POE course had nothing to do with engineering. One project involved the creation of a “pretend business” using an Excel spreadsheet, and another project involved the creation of a PowerPoint presentation about the student’s favorite musician. The students also did research projects on a twentieth century invention of their choice, which ranged from television to the birth control pill.”

Odell's response to the recommended order is here.

Before anyone goes “bashing” the teacher, though, keep this in mind: According to the records, Bogie administrators didn’t realize O’Dell wasn’t teaching the course correctly until it was over.


[Last modified: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 3:57pm]


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