Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas teacher that sparked three decades of complaints retires

Maria Raysses-Whipple, the Pinellas teacher who generated scores of complaints from students and teachers over three decades, is retiring.

Whipple, 61, was profiled in a March St. Petersburg Times story that documented a long history of accusations that she botched grades, belittled students and outraged parents. Despite the problems, the district put her back in the classroom at Dunedin High in 2008, 11 years after she agreed to stop teaching at East Lake High and move to a nonclassroom job. Within two weeks, complaints started anew.

"It has been my blessing and my burden to devote 32 years of my life of dedicated and determined service to Pinellas County Schools, students, and families," Whipple wrote to the district July 4. "I now find that for continued health and medical reasons, I will begin my retirement effective Wednesday, August 3, 2011."

Whipple submitted her retirement form on July 5 but did not complete paperwork finalizing it until Wednesday. She was making $60,798 a year and will receive a lump sum of $57,866 from the state in deferred retirement benefits. Her pension: $2,460 per month.

District officials began investigating her for undisclosed reasons in October. She went on medical leave in January. District paperwork filed this week indicates "she retired under investigation." It also says she will be coded as a "no rehire" in the district's personnel system.

The decision to give Whipple another shot at teaching raised concerns about superintendent Julie Janssen, who was interim superintendent at the time. The teacher was "gone from the classroom for 10, 12 years," she told the Times. "You can't predict that her behaviors haven't changed."

Whipple has said she was targeted because she refused to lower standards. In her letter, she wrote the degradation of the teaching profession will allow other countries to "outcompete and outperform our beloved America internationally on all substantive measures." She added: "Quel dommage!" That's French for "What a pity."

Ron Matus can be reached at or (727) 893-8873.

Pinellas teacher that sparked three decades of complaints retires 07/20/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 11:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Half of Florida lawmakers fail or nearly fail review of support for public records

    State Roundup

    WEST PALM BEACH — Half of Florida's legislators failed or nearly failed in a review of their support for public records and meetings given by Florida newspapers and an open-government group after this year's legislative sessions.

    State Senator Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton (left) and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran ranked on opposite sides of the spectrum in an analysis of support for open records. Galvano scored a B-minus and Corcoran scored a D-plus.
[Times file photo]
  2. Yale dean on leave over offensive Yelp reviews leaves post

    Bizarre News

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Yale University dean who was placed on leave over offensive reviews she posted on Yelp has left her position at the Ivy League institution, school officials said Tuesday.

  3. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  4. The people you meet along O.J. Howard Lane


    OJ Howard (far right) is seen in a photo from his adolescent years at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Prattville, Ala., on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Howard served as an usher in addition to attending regular services at this church.