LARGO, Fla. – Low student test scores at five chronically troubled Florida schools will cost faculty members their jobs when the school year ends in a few weeks.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that Pinellas County school leaders have decided to fire “the entire faculty, from the principal to the classroom teachers,” due to their inability to improve students’ performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
The dismissed school employees will have a chance to reapply for their previous positions, but will have to convince an advisory board, which includes community members, that they deserve to be rehired.
Twenty-two other dysfunctional Florida schools will be required to submit a turnaround plan to the state for the coming school year, though not all plans will result in mass firings, reports the Tampa Bay Times.
Under Florida law, failing schools may also be closed entirely, converted it to a charter school or managed by an outside company, the paper reports.
Pinellas schools Superintendent Mike Grego emphasized that the mass housecleaning is not necessarily an indictment of the teachers.
“We’re asking teachers to want to be there,” Grego told the Times, referencing the schools’ high number of teacher transfer requests and traditionally high turnover rate.
Some community members believe the firings are unfair, because teachers can’t control the socio-economic conditions that negatively affect student learning.
But other Florida districts have been able to make dramatic improvements in failing schools through focused spending increases, extra training for teachers and personnel changes.
Stephen Hegarty, spokesman for nearby Hillsborough County Public Schools, which has two failing schools on the state’s list, says district leaders “have a lot of experience in turning schools around.”
“We’ve done more than one of these, we’ve gotten results and the state knows that,” Hegarty said.