Ah, yet another argument for home-schooling here in the Sunshine State.
This is a discussion on Parents Upset After School Fails To Fire Felons (FL) within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; http://news.yahoo.com/s/wkmg/20070320/lo_wkmg/11306204 In an emergency meeting on Monday, Explorer Elementary and Middle School's board of directors refused to fire two convicted felons despite one board member's ...
In an emergency meeting on Monday, Explorer Elementary and Middle School's board of directors refused to fire two convicted felons despite one board member's plea and eventual resignation, Local 6 News partner Florida Today reported.
The night ended with the resignation of the board member and two teachers, while some dismayed parents promised to withdraw their children.
Board member David Silverman, a Brevard County judge, called the emergency meeting after an Internet search turned up criminal records for both Jay Maer, finance director, and his son Michael Maer, who was hired as a janitor but now works at the front desk and often oversees the after-school program.
Jay Maer, 55, was convicted in 2004 of grand theft, forgery and forging a check -- three felony offenses. He served four months in a Massachusetts prison, was ordered to pay more than $170,000 in restitution and was sentenced to three years of probation, which he is serving until July 10. Maer's probation terms prohibit him from serving in any position that involves money management or oversight, Florida Department of Corrections officials said.
Michael Maer, 23, was convicted last March of fraud, also a felony in Rhode Island. He was sentenced to more than nine years of probation and ordered to repay more than $50,000. The school's financial situation has been in question since recently released audits revealed the school was operating in a deficit and making personal loans to employees, among other alleged violations of accounting principles and federal law.
Since then, the school's top two leaders, Principal Ruben Rosario and Vice Principal Tiffany Malcolm, resigned through e-mails to the board.
"The board needs to re-establish the confidence of the teachers and the parents in this school. And what confidence will they have in folks who are on felony probation, who are convicted felons, who may very easily be alone with children on school grounds?" board member Silverman said, prompting the majority of the crowd to burst into applause.
Chairman Greg Gaddis and Patty Satterwhite, the remaining two board members, defended the Maers and said they are satisfied with their job performance and comfortable with their proximity to the school's students. The school, which has been open since 1998, serves 252 students in grades prekindergarten to 8.
"What you have accused him of is that once you're convicted that you're always a bad guy. Should I continue to suspect that they're going to do bad things?" said Gaddis, drawing applause.
More than 100 parents and staff members attended the meeting, which ended in this sequence of escalating events:
Silverman's motion to fire both Maers and set a policy that the school not employ convicted felons failed when neither Gaddis nor Satterwhite seconded it. Until last week, the board had five members. Mohammad Samarah, who was escorted out of the meeting by two Melbourne police officers after shouting, served on the board for three years until his term expired last week. Meredith Day, a former Explorer teacher, resigned from the board last week after a heated meeting about the school's finances.
Gaddis then recommended that Rosario, who he said "possibly" suffered a heart attack earlier Monday and was admitted to Palm Bay Community Hospital, be placed on paid administrative leave pending his recovery. Hospital officials confirmed Rosario's admittance.
Gaddis said he would not accept the e-mail resignations of Rosario or Malcolm, despite Malcolm's insistence her last day is Friday. Malcolm said she had no prior knowledge of the Maers' criminal history and no involvement in the school's finances. She said she resigned because of threats Rosario made to her and other teachers if they didn't support his leadership.
Gaddis made a motion to hire Jill Webb, 29, the school's curriculum coordinator, as acting principal until at least the next board meeting April 4. Satterwhite seconded the motion, making the action official. "This is crazy!" shouted teacher Suzanne Coomber, in tears.
Silverman then announced his resignation, stating his lack of confidence in other board members and his inability to change their minds. Silverman said he "gave it his best shot," to the dismay of parents and staff who begged for him to stay. "How is anything going to get done with cruel and unfair people up there?" said Sarah Maples, a former student whose mother is the school's librarian.
Two teachers who were disappointed with the outcome shouted their disapproval with the two remaining board members and quit before storming out of the meeting. Middle school math teacher Tony Wall and middle school social studies teacher George Derr said they would not return to school Tuesday.
The resignations led to angry cries of many parents who said they would no longer send their children to the West Melbourne school. "Now who is going to teach our kids?" yelled Tony Ward, whose eighth-grade son attends the school.
Two Melbourne police officers pushed teachers and parents out of the boardroom, and said the meeting was over.
With only a handful of people remaining, nearly all of whom work at the school, Gaddis and Satterwhite announced they were continuing the meeting. They discussed Webb's promotion, decided to put Rosario on paid leave and outlined their next board agenda, which they agreed would include the search for new board members.
Despite his convictions, Jay Maer said he is innocent and had pleaded guilty only to avoid a longer jail sentence. He said he was not aware that his position as the school's finance guru violated his probation. "If I am mistaken, I will do whatever it takes to make it better," said Maer, who still owes $32,000 to a resort in Nantucket, Mass.
After the meeting, parents gathered outside to rehash the evening's events. Many said they feel betrayed by school officials they trusted and confused about where to turn for help.
"Why aren't they accountable?" asked Pam Mullins, who has two children at the school. "I don't know what to do with my children at this point."
Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.
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Ah, yet another argument for home-schooling here in the Sunshine State.
If you can't trust a convicted felon who can you trust? Sounds like this school should recruit techers off the sex offender data base using their own logic. One conviction does not a bad person make. The insanity will continue untill all are affected.
Before everyone gets too excited about this, I have a question. It appears that both of the individuals made a mistake and paid their debt to society. It appears that they were financial crimes and not related to sex offenses. Neither one of them were teachers, though one did have student contact.
After serving their time, doesn't a convicted felon have the right to seek employment? If so, don't be surprised when the courts turn the tables on the school board. It happened here in Texas and cost the county some serious money along with reinstatement of the individual, who ended up resigning anyway because he had enough money to live on due to the settlement.
Just my $0.02.
ya, this is nutz.
convicted felons have no business working for an elementary or middle school, especially.
whoever failed to do the background check and hired them regardless needs to be held accountable.
Jay Maer, 55, was convicted in 2004 of grand theft, forgery and forging a check -- three felony offenses. He said he was not aware that his position as the school's finance guru violated his probation. "If I am mistaken, I will do whatever it takes to make it better," said Maer, who still owes $32,000 to a resort in Nantucket, Mass.
Same organization has the right, IMO, to know about and block the hiring of a felon financier, when his previous finance dealings led to imprisonment ... and the simple fact he still owes a large amount of restitution. Why? The school's funds are at grave risk.
Sure, someone who has paid his/her debt has every opportunity to go seek employment. But, it's completely rational and reasonable to for similar factors to be off-limits to felons as a matter of course. At least, it should be the right of the hiring organization to make the call as to whether that degree of risk is acceptable. It is what it is.
For me, one of my goals is to eliminate my kid's exposure to bad people. I know that's impossible, but it's an effort I'll continue regardless. A convicted felon isn't someone I want my kid exposed to. The nature of the felony has no relevance. I don't expect perfection, but I do demand character. A lie, even lacking malicious intent, is still a lie.
Did these individuals list their convictions on their applications? If not, they secured employment under false pretenses and should surely be terminated. If they did, someone else's head should roll. Even if they did list the convictions, most school contracts I've seen have some form of "escape" clause: "If new information surfaces, we reserve the right to terminate your employment...."
But I will say that a whole lot of remembering needs to be done in the next November elections for school board.
+10 falcon1...there's a whole lot that strikes me as really oddball about this whole deal--or really inept. Somebody's goofed bigtime.
In my neck of the woods, background checks and fingerprinting are mandatory first-steps in the employment process for school and school board employees. Heck, that includes construction workers on school grounds. The criminal history and probation/parole status of the folks in this case would have come up immediately.
Somebody, or more than one somebody, has dropped the ball here.
I'm sorry, I don't want my kids around felons--it's a silly rule of mine, but I guess that's the way I am. I don't expect a school to be a utopia--bad things already happen there without adding the complication of a felon in the mix.
There are plenty of jobs where felons can work....it does not involve kids, money, drugs or guns or places where any of those things will be present.
My mother used to work at that school. Her contract (and a few others) were not renewed by that ***** of a principal after his first year. The guy suffers from a major Napoleon complex (if he's 5'4", I'm a liberal) and bullies people out that do not support him. If he did have a heart attack, the SOB got what he deserved.
The school finance director is a convicted forger, and is prohibited from holding a job dealing with finance as a condition of his probation. Yet there he is. That seems like a good idea to you?
They can't vote, they can't own guns, they can't hold public and/or elected office in most states... and, yes IMO felons should not hold positions of responsibility dealing with children.
In any case my kids would not return to that school. Something is obviously fouled up. Teachers don't just up and quit, they need jobs like everyone else... and continuing the meeting after ushering the public out may have been illegal.
"I am a Soldier. I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight." GEN George S. Patton, Jr.
On the news it now seems that the public school system has had to move into this charter school and take over it's administration. It seems the finances are a complete disaster. They will be operating until the end of the year but unknown after that. The money seems to be gone, hmmmmm......
If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good. ~ Thomas J. Watson, Jr.
I agree with you. I wouldn't want them in my kids' schools either. The reason I posted this was to point out that if this gets in front of a court, don't be surprised if they rule in favor of the felons, especially if they disclosed their convictions on their hiring forms, and the school board still hired them.
We had a similar case in a suburb of Houston where a convicted felon (IIRC grand theft auto), was hired as a teacher by a school district. Someone found out that he was a felon and the SHTF. The guy has spent some time in prison and was beyond his parole period. He also disclosed on his application that he had a conviction, but he still got the job. Also, he sued the school district and they reached a settlement and he was even given a chance to get his job back.
He did initially take the job, but only stayed a short time, then resigned. It was presumed that the settlement was more than he would make as a teacher, though the amount was never disclosed publicly to my knowledge.
This has been several years ago and things should have changed by now, but if it goes to court, I wouldn't be surprised if there is not a similar outcome.