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Gradebook

Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Sub insists he's no wizard, plans to sue Pasco district

Piculas Jim Piculas, the Pasco substitute teacher who claims he was fired for "wizardry," now wants to sue the school district for making it impossible for him to get a full-time or substitute teaching job.

His lawyer, Jeffrey "Jack" Gordon of Tampa, has notified the school district that Piculas intends to sue the district for "defamation and tortious interference damages."

"Six months from now I will be suing. They're not going to offer any money," Gordon told the Gradebook.

Gordon acknowledged that the district had a legal right to fire Piculas under Florida's right-to-work laws and also under its own substitute teacher manual rules. But he suggested that district officials were on shaky ground by making accusations that have had a substantial impact on Piculas' profession.

"He works every day as a sub for a year, and now no school needs him?" Gordon said. "There's one reason and only one reason why."

Like all the blogs and news reports, and the attention from national media including MSNBC and Comedy Central's Colbert Report.

"His performance as a teacher has been called into question," Gordon said.

Pasco officials have steadfastly denied that “wizardry” — in this case a 30-second trick of making a toothpick “disappear” — had anything to do with Piculas’ dismissal. Rather, they have consistently pointed to documents stating that Piculas could not manage his class, used foul language in front of students and failed to follow lesson plans.

When asked about the notification that Piculas might sue, superintendent Heather Fiorentino smiled and said simply, "We've given it to Mr. (Dennis) Alfonso," the district's lawyer, who was out of the office for the day and not available for comment.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:49am]

    

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