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Fallout Over Mass Teacher Firing In Hernando County

Hernando County Teachers' Association is asking the school district to rescind their decision to fire the teachers at Moton Elementary School in Brooksville.

The Hernando County teachers union has filed a grievance over the district’s announcement it is firing every teacher at a struggling elementary school.

Earlier this month, 47 teachers at Moton Elementary School in Brooksville were told they would be terminated from teaching at Moton at the end of the school year. Moton is on the state's list of Florida's lowest performing schools.

Tenured teachers working at Moton will receive a new assignment at another county school for the next academic year. Newer teachers on a year-long contract will have to reapply for a position within the school district.

But at Tuesday's school board meeting, nearly 100 educators and community members voiced opposition to the move.

Some of the protestors wore buttons that read "Who's Next" and other's dressed in purple, one of Moton's school colors.

Sandra Bell Shorter, a retired Hernando County teacher, said district officials like school Superintendent Lori Romano, need to shoulder the blame for Moton’s poor academic rating. 

"The problem falls directly on you Superintendent Romano,” she said during the public comment period of the school board meeting. “You are at the top, and you are the one that has the power."

In a letter sent to parents, Romano stated that despite an infusion of support, Moton may not reach state-mandated turnaround goals this year.

Joanne McCall, president of the Florida Education Association, said making the announcement just before the state's testing season will hurt students.

"What on earth do you think that does to the students psyche as their trying to take their test?” she said at Tuesday’s school board meeting.  “You're already telling them they're failing before they even get their scores back. That's wrong, that's morally incorrect."

Moton Elementary School is in the second year of a state three-year turnaround plan. The teacher’s union says that even if it gets a failing grade this summer, the school would still have another full year to improve.

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