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Five more Hillsborough teachers could be fired over missing credentials

TAMPA — Five more teachers face the ax in Hillsborough County, accused of failing to get the credentials they needed to instruct students who are learning English.

The five, who will be suspended without pay subject to a School Board vote on Tuesday, join five more whom the board suspended on July 15, an interim step toward firing.

In all 10 cases, the teachers are accused of violating an agreement with the League of United Latin American Citizens that calls for teachers to be trained to assist students whose first language is not English.

Given the large numbers of English language learners in Florida, such training is a standard job requirement for many disciplines and the district offers free classes.

When teachers fail to become trained after repeated warnings, the district has no choice but to take action, said Stephanie Woodford, chief human resources officer.

"I don't ever want to do this," Woodford said Wednesday. But "we need to have qualified teachers in front of our students."

What's more, Woodford said at the July 15 meeting, the state deducts funding when teachers lack credentials. At one point, those losses were as high as $60,000 a year.

Two of the five who face suspension — Shanta Dumont of Bartels Middle School and Clara Lowery-Seyer of Seminole Elementary School — teach exceptional-student education. The five suspended on July 15 included three ESE teachers.

The other three up for suspension this time are Monique Roderick, a third-grade teacher at the new Thompson Elementary School; Tracy Roese, a biology teacher at Freedom High; and Jaye Wheeler, who taught kindergarten at Clair Mel Elementary.

Two of the five have been out of compliance since 2012 and three since October 2013, district officials said. Woodford said once they update their credentials, they are free to re-apply.

Also facing suspension is William Vlasic, a Shields Middle School social studies teacher who was charged June 27 with felony battery and tampering with a witness. He pleaded not guilty on July 17.

Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 226-3356 or sokol@tampabay.com. Follow @marlenesokol.

Five more Hillsborough teachers could be fired over missing credentials 07/23/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 10:58pm]

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