Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teacher Wins Case to See Her Reinstated; but It's Now Up to the School Board to Concur with the Judge's Ruling

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teacher Wins Case to See Her Reinstated; but It's Now Up to the School Board to Concur with the Judge's Ruling

Article excerpt

Byline: Khristopher J. Brooks

A Jacksonville teacher, who was fired after being accused of ignoring an episode of oral sex in her kindergarten classroom, has won her appeal for reinstatement.

Donna James, a former Southside Estates Elementary School teacher, was fired by Duval County Public Schools in March after a district investigation found that she had a history of not supervising her students. Administrative judge R. Bruce McKibben sided with James and recommended that all the charges against her be eliminated and that she be re-employed with the district. In his written order, McKibben said he based his decision in large part on a lack of evidence for the charges James faced.

McKibben's decision means James has a chance rejoin the district. At its next monthly meeting, the Duval County School Board will decide to reinstate her as a teacher, reinstate her in a different position, or not reinstate her at all.

According to the district's investigation, the state Department of Children and Families investigated James in 2010 when the teacher left her students alone and two students got in a fight. During the fight, one student stabbed the other in the neck with a pencil.

In March, according to the documents, a male student in James' class gave oral sex to another male student while in the classroom. James told a district investigator that she was unaware the incident happened.

The James ruling comes a few weeks after a different administrative judge ruled in favor of another disciplined district employee. Last month, Judge E. Gary Early decided that former Windy Hill Elementary School Principal Sharon Sanders should be reinstated as a principal. The district also has four disciplined employees in cue for decisions on their cases - Suzanne Herring, Gary Snell, Dennis Hester and Beverly Howard.

James joined the school district in August 1999. She had other write-ups on her personnel file, including an incident where two students were left on the playground and a separate incident where a student was allowed to board a school bus even though the student wasn't assigned to take the bus. …

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