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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Teacher with checkered past will not teach at Palm Harbor U



A teacher who once resigned after allegedly stealing yearbook money won't continue working a new gig at Palm Harbor University High School, Superintendent Julie Janssen told The Gradebook this evening.

Jason Pafundi began working this month as a 12th-grade English teacher despite a checkered past that included a reprimand for falling asleep in class at Lakewood High (the same place where the yearbook issue arose) and being banned from working as a substitute teacher at Seminole High. Two years ago, his parents - Ted Pafundi, a high-ranking district administrator, and Barbara Pafundi, the teachers union representative at Palm Harbor U - successfully lobbied top district officials to give him a second chance.

After an article in today's St. Petersburg Times, Palm Harbor principal Christen Tonry decided to pull her recommendation that he be hired, Janssen said. The recommendation had not yet gone to the school board, which usually approves such recommendations without question.

"It's been a major campus disruption the last day and she said she really believed this was the right thing for her to do at this time," Janssen said.

Janssen said she supported the decision. She said the human resources office has already notified Pafundi.

Asked if she would have hired Pafundi, Janssen said she couldn't say because she had not seen his teaching performance. But, she added, in cases where teachers have issues "there would have to be a compelling reason directly related to how amazing they were in the classroom."

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 6:39pm]


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