BROOKSVILLE, Fla- Did a controversial decision by Hernando County Superintendent Dr. Lori Romano result in her firing?
Romano dismissed all 47 teachers at Moton Elementary without informing school board members or the teachers' union beforehand.
The low performing school was under a three-year plan to improve its grades. Moton was in its second year of the plan when the teachers were fired in April.
“We felt the decision to remove the staff was very premature,” said Vince LaBorante, president of the Hernando County Teachers Association, who has filed a grievance on behalf of the removed teachers.
Most of the teachers, 18, were under a professional service contract allowing them the option to transfer to another school.
“We were able to negotiate with the district to get them to call those teachers in and give them a choice of their top three choices,” LaBorante said.
Annual contract teachers with high evaluation scores are automatically guaranteed a job for the next school year, but some of those educators were fired as well. Some were eventually rehired, LaBorante said.
Romano and district officials refused to comment on the situation, but in a letter to school board members, an attorney representing the embattled superintendent wrote "some days hard decisions are made; but, in the end, they are for the good of the children and their education."
If Moton doesn't raise its grade to a "C" or better by the end of next school year, state education officials have 3 options:
- Close the school
- Turn it into a charter school
- Have state officials take over the school
Improving Moton's grade won't be easy due to low moral. Rehired teachers fear they will be fired again, LaBorante said.
Romano can contest her firing 10 days following the school board presenting its official termination letter to her on June 26th - the day board members will also fully explain their reasoning behind her termination.
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