Superintendents have concerns over ethics law
Florida's new educator ethics law takes effect July 1, and superintendents already have concerns that it goes too far.
What used to be known as the "seven deadly sins" that could get an educator fired becomes a 49-item list, and it appears to be retroactive, meaning any certified teacher with any long-forgotten criminal misstep (no matter how minor) could be targeted to lose his or her license.
The superintendents association is asking the State Attorney General's Office for an opinion on how this can happen. They also are looking to the Department of Education for a statewide policy to govern implementation, rather than having to create local rules that might not coincide from county to county.
"I understand where they wanted to go with this," Pasco superintendent Heather Fiorentino told her board, reporting from a recent meeting of the state's district leaders. "But they have gone past some of that. ... (The law has) deep penetrating consequences."
Pasco School Board attorney Dennis Alfonso called the law "pretty expansive."
"It does have provisions that create punitive measures both against the board and the superintendent if we don't follow the requirements," he said, noting that his colleagues from Hernando and Polk are working with FSBA on suggested standards.
"Don't you see that going into a lawsuit almost immediately?" board member Marge Whaley wondered.
"Oh, yes," Alfonso said.