Seeking 'fresh start,' Hernando school dumps all teachers

- During a faculty meeting last Friday, teachers at Moton Elementary School learned they’d be out of a teaching job come next school year. Hernando County School District officials wanted a fresh start for the school characterized as trouble.

"We really did this out of a concern to make sure our staff had plenty of time to find new positions," said Karen Jordan, the district spokesperson.

Tenured teachers will receive a new assignment within the county, but newer educators will have to reapply for a position either within the district or at Moton specifically.

Lavetta Jenkins, who has a 6-year-old daughter enrolled at Moton, says she learned the news through word of mouth and social media, and now has several questions she wants answered.

“Why wasn’t I informed?" Jenkins asked. "What’s going on? Was there any time to inform parents and teachers about what’s going on?”

The district says it wanted staff to be the first to know.

“Today, students are going home and a letter is posted on the school’s website to explain to parents what the decisions were, and what the data suggested and why we did what we did,” Jordan said.

Florida Department of Education records show Moton has shown up twice on the state’s list of worst-performing schools. For the last two years, it’s received a D-rating from the department.

Jordan said the state gave them three options.

“The choices are: We permanently close the school, we temporarily close the school and reopen as a charter school, or third, we open it to another agency to take over and manage," she said. "Well, Moton is our school, we want to hold on to it.”

Jenkins is hoping more parent involvement can also be a part of the solution.

“We all need to come together; parents, teachers, administrators, it’s just one day at a time, and I feel like if we’re all in it together, we’ll all get it done.”

Moton’s teaching staff consists of 47 teachers, 18 of which are tenured and will be re-assigned to other elementary schools in the district. Teachers on an annual contract can re-apply for a position within the district, but will have to meet state requirements for that school.

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