With less than two weeks left in the 2016 legislative session, a bill that had already been voted favorably and moved forward is now temporarily postponed and waiting for a committee vote.
Senate Bill 1356 revises the provisions related to rehiring retired personnel as an instructor on a contract basis, requiring legislative intent to clarify any authorization of awarded contracts.
This bill states that instructors must first be granted a one year probationary contract and upon successful completion of that contract an annual contract may be granted. This does not apply retroactively.
Soon after the bill was introduced committee members were curious as to what led to the bill being filed.
John Palmerini, associate general counsel of Orange County school district, explained that an employee filed a lawsuit against the county in 2010 claiming she was entitled to a professional service contract. The courts ruled in favor of the teacher and the school district employees believed the case was wrongly decided.
Committee members then asked Palmerini if the bill being proposed would undermine the court.
“This bill would have no affect on that teacher because the court’s ruling is final,” Palmerini said. “This corrects the problem here and going forward.”
The meeting intensified when Kevin Watson, a representative from the Florida Education Association, informed the committee that adopting this bill would be ruling against the plaintiffs for any ongoing investigations.
“The intent of this legislation is to clear up ongoing investigations,” Watson said. “If we were simply cleaning up an impunity with the case of the Orange County school district and the Orange County teacher I don't think we would have any problems with this bill.”
The education committee will meet again Feb. 24 to further discuss SB 1356.