State Department of Education threatening to fire 1K+ Polk Co. teachers calling out Monday to rally

Polk County

UPDATE: At least one Polk County School Board member is alerting teachers that the State Department of Education is threatening to fire and fine teachers who miss work to rally in the state capitol next week.

Matthew Mears the Office of General Counsel for the Florida Department of Education sent out a warning around 9:30 p.m. that teachers who don’t show up for class and attend the rally will be fined or fired.

The Polk County School Board has 600 positions filled but still needs to fill 700 teaching spots by Monday.

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Thousands of Florida teachers, parents and educators will gather at the Capitol on Monday demanding more money to support schools. But who will watch students while the teachers are away? 8 On Your Side is getting answers.

We received concerned phone calls from parents who heard school bus drivers and lunch personnel would be sitting with the students. We spoke with the Polk County School Board who confirmed bus drivers, food prep workers, and custodial workers will not be filling any of the positions.

In a statement to 8 On Your Side, district officials clarified that “bus drivers may be utilized as added support on campus. For example, they may supervise lunch duty or assist with dismissal. They will not be supervising classrooms.”

School board officials say more than 600 substitute teachers will take over and the remaining vacant spots will be filled by certified and trained school professionals or district personnel.

8 On Your Side also spoke with the Polk Education Association who says teachers have been telling the district they were going to call out for months and are upset the that school board didn’t being preparations for this until this past Monday, after winter break.

The Polk County School Board already sent out e-mails and phone calls to parents saying they are working on filling the slots and to plan on sending their students to school Monday. If anything changes you can find the latest on the school district’s website.

8 On Your Side also spoke with the Pinellas County School District and Hillsborough School district who said they’ve been preparing for this day for months and have a plan well established and do not have a coverage shortage.

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