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FDOE: Dade School Board Retaliated Against Employees

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) ruled Miami-Dade County's School Board unlawfully retaliated against school employees involved in a charter school conversion.

The FDOE entered an order on Thursday finding that the school board violated Florida laws by retaliating  against employees for their involvement in the conversion of Neva King Cooper Educational Center.

The school,  meant for students with  intellectual disabilities, had voted in February 2012 to explore converting into a charter school.

After a few months, the school district transferred those involved in the conversion to other locations. Employees transferred included Principal Alberto T. Fernandez,  Assistant Principal Henny Cristobol and Staffing Specialist Patricia E. Ramirez.

READ: Ruling May Chill School Districts Efforts To Challenge Charter School Conversions

Complaints filed by the employees stated they believed it was due to their participation in the the conversion process, triggering an investigation into the district's actions.

Investigators later issued as a Fact-Finding Report unfavorable to the district on November 2012.

That's when the Commissioner of Education sent Superintendent Alberto Carvalho a letter lettin him know there was reasonable grounds to believe that "unlawful reprisal" against the employees had occurred.

Hearings were held on the matter during January and February of this year. In the hearings, the school board said employees had been transferred as a result of investigations for their role in the charter school conversion.

The judge questioned the reasons for the transfers and on June 30th issued an order recommending the FDOE file an order finding the school board had unlawfully retaliated against it's employees by transferring them.

The judge also recommended the school board pay for the employees attorney fees and pay Fernandez $10,590 for lost bonuses and other reasonable costs.

The FDOE's recent order reiterated the judge's recommendations.

Click here to view the judge's entire recommended order. 

Through the investigation, the FDOE found that Superintendent Carvalho, the "National Superintendent of the Year", may not have been directly tied to the unlawful actions, according to testimony by witnesses for the district.  But testimony showed that staff who reported directly to him engaged in the unlawful actions.



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