Teacher who has been Threatening Colleagues for 15 Years Finally has License Revoked – for Five Years

Doreen Whitfield
(FirstCoastNews.com)

Florida’s Education Practices Commission has finally revoked the teaching certificate of Doreen Whitfield, a special education and drama instructor from Jacksonville who has been making violent threats to colleagues for 15 years.

The first complaint about Whitfield dates back to 1999, according to FirstCoastNews.com. While discussing a dispute at a school payroll office, Whitfield allegedly told a companion, “All they need is one fatality up here and everything would be OK.”

Then there was 2004, when Whitfield learned she would not be retained at the school she was working at. She allegedly said she hated the principal and wanted to cut his heart out with a knife.

Then there was 2011, when the principal of another school revealed that Whitfield’s position would be eliminated the following year, presumably for budgetary reasons. The teacher allegedly responded by saying, “Maybe something needs to happen to the principal’s children.”

The principal was reportedly so shaken that she asked her husband to check on their children at daycare and asked to be escorted by a security guard to and from her office, the news report said.

Here’s the key line to the entire story: “Despite the years of complaints, Whitfield remained a teacher in the school system, at Lakeshore Middle, Mandarin High, Bayview Elementary and most recently West View K-8.”

Why did it take so long to revoke this troubled woman’s teaching certificate?

It’s simple. Tenure laws allow too many incompetent or intolerable teachers to remain in the classroom long after they should be fired. One line in the story said, “We reached out to the Duval County school board to ask why a teacher with 15 years of concerns wasn’t disciplined earlier. They were unable to respond by our deadline, but we will post any response we do receive here.”

We can save the school board the trouble. Traditionally it has taken several years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to remove tenured teachers from the classroom, regardless of their behavior.

Given that, many cash-strapped school districts simply decide to save a lot of money and ignore problem teachers, for as long as possible. Toss in the fact that the union is there to defend these teachers every time an administrator raises a concern, and you end up with very bad teachers who have a great deal of job security.

Tenure has always been a very, very bad idea, particularly for K-12 teachers. Numerous studies tell us how important it is to have the best possible teacher in every classroom. Tenure laws frequently accomplish just the opposite.

Here’s a troubling postscript to this disturbing story:

“Whitfield’s license to teach will be revoked for five years, at which point she could be eligible to get re-certified and return to the classroom again,” the news story said.

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