Tough call in Miami
The Miami-Dade School board voted to fire six teachers and another twenty-six quit. All 32 instructors were accused of using a diploma mill to meet their continuing education requirements.
Its a sad story, not for the teachers, but the students who will be affected by these dismissals and resignations. The board almost voted to keep the teachers till the end of the school term, the vote was 5-4 not to wait. I may have voted to wait, but the board was within its right. These teachers had done firable offenses.
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A dozen students and parents defended history teacher Javier Currais for nearly an hour before he was given three minutes of his own.
He barely used any of it.
''You don't know me,'' said Currais, one of 32 teachers who was fired or forced to resign for participating in Miami-Dade's continuing-education credit-buying scandal.``You don't know anything about me except the one mistake you saw on that paper.''
He nearly won a brief reprieve; the School Board came within one vote of letting the teachers stay in their classrooms through the end of the school year to avoid disrupting students before spring's standardized tests.
''I made a mistake three years ago; 191 kids didn't do anything,'' Currais said in a brief, emotional statement. ``Punish me, fire me, do whatever the hell you want with me. Don't screw them over before their test.''
Ultimately, though, the board accepted 26 resignations and fired six teachers by a 5-4 vote. They were the first punishments given as a result of the scandal, which has tarred hundreds more teachers still under investigation.
''This whole situation is tantamount to a bad disease,'' said board member Solomon Stinson.
Currais admitted he paid former Palmetto Senior High teacher William McCoggle for continuing-education classes, which teachers must take every five years in order to renew their licenses. But the classes offered by McCoggle's company -- Moving On Toward Education and Training (MOTET) -- barely existed, according to statements McCoggle made to investigators after he pleaded guilty to fraud last year.
Currais resigned Tuesday, which allowed him to receive payment for unused sick days, but he forfeited his right to appeal. Union leaders said many who were fired would appeal in the state Department of Administrative Hearings.
The four who voted against the firings -- board members Frank Bolaños, Evelyn Greer, Martin Karp and Marta Pérez -- wanted to defer action until the end of the school year.