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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Teacher who told student to "go back to Africa" may be suspended by state



Africa_satellite_small If a teacher told a black student to go back to Africa, what would be fair punishment?

The state Department of Education is recommending a one-year suspension of a teaching certificate in just such a case, involving a Pinellas middle school teacher.

According to this administrative complaint, Mark Krieger, a health teacher at Oak Grove Middle, reportedly became angry in September 2006 when a student failed to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Krieger told the student he was in a free country and should respect it, and that if the student didn't he should go back to Africa, the complaint alleges.

The district suspended Krieger for 10 days without pay. In a proposed settlement, Krieger agrees to the one-year suspension, along with two years on probation and a requirement that he take a college-level course on cultural diversity. The settlement says Krieger neither admits nor denies the allegations. The Education Practices Commission, which sanctions Florida teachers for misconduct, will consider the settlement tomorrow.

Sixteen other Tampa Bay teachers are on the EPC agenda, including:

  • Michael Black, a former Pasco Middle School teacher who was sentenced last year to 22 years in prison for having sex with a student.
  • Daniel Zdrodowski, a former Seminole Middle School band teacher who was sentenced to five years in prison for the same thing.
  • Diptesh De Choudhury, a former Blake High teacher who allegedly told an 18-year-old student via email that he had deep feelings for her.   
  • Janet White, a former assistant principal at MacFarlane Park Elementary who is accused of embezzling $40,000 from the Hillsborough County Elementary Mathematics Council.
  • Jason Lee Williams, a former Azalea Middle School teacher who reportedly accessed pornographic Web sites on a school computer and sent inappropriate e-mails to female students. (Pinellas officials determined the e-mails were inappropriate but not sexual, and Williams was not fired. He now teaches at John Hopkins Middle.)

Ron Matus, state education reporter


[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:15am]


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