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Board to hear teacher's case

A Lecanto Primary School teacher suspended with pay last week after he was arrested on drunken driving and marijuana possession charges will be recommended for suspension without pay and eventual firing to the School Board today.

Richard DaSilva, 37, did not meet a deadline set by school administrators to resign Monday.

If that resignation doesn't come early today, Superintendent Carl Austin will recommend that the board take further action against the teacher, who has been with the school district about one year. That action would be to suspend without pay and begin dismissal proceedings, which take several weeks and could be acted on by the School Board next month.

DaSilva was stopped a week and a half ago in Crystal River. Police charged him with driving while under the influence and misdemeanor counts of possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.

DaSilva immediately notified his principal and was removed from contact with pupils when he arrived at work Oct. 17. By the next day, Austin had suspended him with pay, pending board action.

Two parents of children in DaSilva's class have called the school district, asking if the teacher can be "given a second chance," according to executive director of administrative services Neal Weiss.

"We told them we appreciate their input and explain to them that we are not the only deciding factor here," Weiss said. "He is also answerable to the Department of Education, and they control his certificate to teach."

Although DaSilva has been cooperative with the school district and apologetic about what he did, Weiss said there is a more important issue that the board will have to decide.

Teachers are role models, he said. "What I'm recommending to Mr. Austin is consistent with how we understand the mores of the community and very much like what we've done in similar situations."

The state DOE conducts its own investigation into charges against teachers and can order other disciplinary procedures, which can be as severe as revoking a teacher's certificate.