Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Former Clay Teacher Should Be Reinstated,arbitrator Rules; Inoperable Stun Gun Was Found in Her Classroom Cabinet; She Was Fired

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Former Clay Teacher Should Be Reinstated,arbitrator Rules; Inoperable Stun Gun Was Found in Her Classroom Cabinet; She Was Fired

Article excerpt

Byline: Teresa Stepzinski

A former Clay County teacher is entitled to reinstatement with back pay, an arbitrator ruled, saying that the county School Board fired her without just cause after an inoperable stun gun was found locked inside her classroom file cabinet.

State Attorney Angela Corey declined to prosecute Helena Feuerborn, who was an Orange Park Junior High School teacher when fired Feb. 21 by the board at Superintendent Charlie Van Zant Jr.'s recommendation. Possession of a stun gun on school grounds was a felony and also a violation of school district policy, Assistant Superintendent Toni McCabe said in the termination recommendation.

The Times-Union couldn't reach Feuerborn, 34, for comment. She has no prior disciplinary action. However, Feuerborn "feels vindicated and is ecstatic and looking forward to getting back to teaching," said Renna Lee Paiva, president of the Clay County Education Association, the union representing district teachers.

Gavin Rollins, district spokesman, said the decision is being reviewed and declined further comment.

When Feuerborn was fired, the association filed a grievance, asserting that she was denied her right to due process and was terminated without cause. "Since the evidence proves that the stun gun was not a weapon or device which Grievant [Feuerborn] was prohibited by state law from taking on school property, the evidence does not prove that by taking the stun gun into her class room Grievant committed a felony, or that Grievant brought the school system into disrepute, committed any misconduct in office, or did not comply with any School Board regulations or policies or any state law ... or ... breached her duty to provide a safe education environment for students," Tuesday's arbitration decision states.

The fact that the stun gun wasn't operational also was a factor in the decision not to prosecute Feurborn, Corey spokeswoman Jackelyn Barnard previously told the Times-Union. …

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