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"You are Fired!" If you are a Florida public school teacher who recently heard those word

Teachers have contacted me to tell me that they have recently been fired. Something about their narrative just did not sound right. Inquiring minds want to know, right?

After reading Florida Statute 1012.335, it appears that they are being improperly terminated. Of course, I do not have all the facts before me. But, I am not here to return a verdict. Instead, I am trying to get teachers to simply understand that they have rights. Most teachers are unaware of what those rights are or where to go look for the "book of rights."

Your rights can be found, for starters, in the Florida Statutes. And, you do not have to be a lawyer to read them or even understand them - even if you have to read them a few times before you do! It is ok. It is not you. We have clowns writing these laws, and I am sure you know that much already. What can we expect?

Enough with the humor. This is serious business.

If you are a teacher who has been terminated (or should you be in the future), please know that there is a legal process which the school district must follow when terminating teachers. If the school district fails to follow the procedure, the terminated teacher may be reinstated - and even be able to claim back pay. But before you get ahead of yourself, please read on and educate yourself.

Please read Florida Statute 1012.335 to assess if the manner in which you were terminated is consistent with these legally mandated procedures. If you suspect that you were not terminated pursuant to Florida Statutes, you may take it upon yourself to address the issue and seek legal recourse.

Act quickly. Most legal claims are time sensitive. That is, if you miss the "statute of limitations," even if you have a meritorious legal claim, you will be barred forever for not filing within the window provided by law.

While you are gathering your evidence, make sure you keep a log of each person you spoke with, including the date and time. And, whenever possible, make your requests in writing, such as through e-mails. Courts can see when a manager is evasive and this is usually frowned upon. So even if you feel they are ignoring you, it may prove to their detriment in the long run. Just keep writing and keep asking for the information you need to assess whether you were, in fact, terminated as legally required by law.

If an administrator calls you for a "meeting" refuse to be in their alone. Be certain to express your right to have a witness present - even if it means you have to postpone the meeting until a later point in time. And, when the meeting is concluded follow-up with an e-mail that memorializes word-for-word what transpired in the meeting. This how to "document" that which is not already in the written form.

Be smart. You are your best advocate. Remove yourself emotionally as much as possible and maintain your equanimity. Pretend you are a lawyer representing your most important client: YOU!

One last word related to tyrants or bullies. They get off by instilling fear in others. But there is a way to get a bully to stop harassing you and that is by showing them you are fearless. The minute you show fearlessness, it will be you who will instill fear in the bully. Do not let any administrator know - or even think - you fear them. Never forget they are, in fact, no better than you. It boils down to who fears who. And, like I tell my students the first day of school (I teach middle school and must go in without showing teeth), "It's either me or you, and it isn't going to be me!" This is where their eyes pop out, but it is always smooth sailing until the last day of school.

Here is Florida Statute 1012.335:

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