Child neglect charge against Jacksonville teacher dropped, but district terminates her anyway

Even though her child neglect charge was not related to her students and she completed a pretrial intervention program to have the charge dropped, a Jacksonville kindergarten teacher was still fired because of the arrest. The teacher was arrested in June 2013 after she and her husband left their 9-month-old granddaughter in a van by herself while they went into a grocery store, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The teacher told her supervisor about the arrest, which is required by school district policy, but word never travelled to the proper authorities inside the district, the newspaper reported. District officials said they learned of the arrest during a routine update of arrest records for all employees, the newspaper reported, and that’s why it took so long to fire her.

School officials said the teacher accepted responsibility by entering the pretrial program and district policy requires employees to be fired if they have a felony on their record. The teacher is contesting the termination, the newspaper reported. Her attorney is arguing that the crime did not involve a student and, because the charge is dropped, the felony rule does not apply in her case, the newspaper reported. The teacher does not have a previous criminal record, the newspaper reported.

The case exemplifies the difference between punishments levied by Jacksonville Criminal Justice System and by an employer – regardless of whether that employer is private or public. Crimes must be able to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. That is not the case for employers. Public employees, such as teachers and police officers, do have more rights in their employment than would someone working for a private company, but the employer still has more discretion than the legal system. A similar scenario played out in Clay County earlier this year, when a school bus driver was fired for alleged abuse of a student, but prosecutors chose not to file charges.

There are many options in Jacksonville Felony Crimes Cases for people who have not been in trouble before. There are pretrial diversion programs (referred to as Jacksonville PTI) when people have a series of classes or steps they must complete before the charge is dropped. The programs are there so people can take their punishment and move on with their lives, so one false move doesn’t bring everything else to a screeching halt. If you or a loved one is arrested, a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney can work to negotiate an agreement where the charge can be dropped if certain conditions are met. No agreement can guarantee an employer will accept it, but a dropped charge is definitely more likely to be accepted than a felony conviction.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.