Hillsborough school board overturns teacher's transfer
Teacher Laurie Rodriguez won her job back Thursday, almost a full school year after she lost it in a cost-cutting move in the Hillsborough County School District's adult education department.
Rodriguez, 51, who was transferred from Erwin Technical College in East Tampa, filed a grievance with the district, saying the move had an adverse affect on a small group of educators who were placed in the hiring pool in September.
The district argued that, to save $700,000 at a time of uncertain enrollment levels, they were entitled to use part-time instructors to replace full-time teachers. Representing the district at Thursday's hearing, attorney Nathan Paulich said Rodriguez could not find any specific clause in the teachers' union contract that the district had violated.
Union executive director Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, who represented Rodriguez, said the contract assumes members will be treated fairly; and that they will not be displaced unless there is a clear need, such as the shut-down of a program. "Students were there, classes were being taught," she said.
Rodriguez, a district employee since 2010, is married to Bill Person, a former school district administrator who is running for School Board against incumbent Susan Valdes. When he first declared his candidacy, Person said it was largely because of what happened to his wife and her coworkers. But after Thursday's meeting, he said he still is running. Whether any of the teachers will actually return to Erwin was not clear. Rodriguez, who was offered a teaching job at Waters Career Center, is on a leave of absence.
Board member Cindy Stuart made the motion to overturn the district's decision, which was seconded by chairwoman April Griffin. Doretha Edgecomb and Carol Kurdell voted with Stuart and Griffin. Valdes, Sally Harris and Melissa Snively cast the dissenting votes.