Superintendent: Lakeland teacher falsified application

Bartow, Florida -- 10 News has learned new information about the Lakeland English teacher who told investigators she didn't regret having sex 20-30 times with her 17-year-old student. Jennifer Fichter, 29, falsified her application with Polk County schools, according to the superintendent.

That could explain why she was hired despite allegations at an Orlando middle school that she was having sex with an eighth grader. Those allegations turned out to be false, but other questions over her ethics were raised.

Fitchter was hired on as a teacher at Kathleen High School in 2011 and then later transferred to Lakeland's Central Florida Aerospace Academy where she's accused of having sex with a student, getting pregnant and having an abortion. When the child's mother confronted her, police say Fichter explained that she was in love.

But it's likely that Fichter should have never been hired with the Polk County School District in the first place.

Three years earlier while she was a language arts teacher at Robinswood Middle School in Orlando she faced some serious allegations. According to personnel records, students and teachers accused Fichter of making a statement that a student made her "melt," that she had an inappropriate dream about the student, and that she "was going to smash" the student. ("Smash" means have sexual intercourse.)

The records also show she stated that she felt as if an 8th grade former student was her boyfriend and she asked a student if he wanted to be her baby. Fichter resigned in December of 2008 after an ethics complaint was filed against her.

10 News has learned Cecil McClellan, the principal of Kathleen High School, hired her. He captured national headlines when he was accused of propositioning an undercover deputy during a prostitution bust that was caught on camera. He later resigned.

Frank O'Reilly was a Polk County School Board member for 12 years and says it's up to the principal and human resources to check a teacher's background. He says some 200-300 teachers are hired every single year and the district currently has about 6,000 teachers.

"They certainly look out for the children. They certainly look out for the teachers and make sure they're the people you can trust your children to this school district -- that they're being taken care of the best way that they can do it. Now to say that something isn't going to pop up over the years it certainly will," he says.

Current school board member Hunt Berryman told 10 News by phone that the allegations against the teacher in Orlando may have gone undetected because she falsified her application. Berryman says the superintendent sent school board members an email about it Friday.

We asked superintendent Kathryn LeRoy for her reaction to the report but was told under advice from counsel she'd been advised not to talk to the media. We're told that's something that could change on Monday.


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