Officials: Teacher claimed she was dying to get out of work

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POLK COUNTY, Fla. - A teacher admitted to fabricating a story that she and her father were dying so she could skip class.

The Polk County school district  said it wanted to fire Laurel Elementary School teacher Ashley Barker, who kept up the ruse for a year.

Barker told officials at the school that she wasn't at the hospital or the doctor's office while she was supposedly sick, but was home the entire time with nothing wrong.

School district officials said Barker weaved a heartbreaking tale. The first-grade teacher said her father was sick and dying, and so was she.

For nearly a year, officials took her at her word, letting her leave early, giving her days off and making special accommodations for what they would later find out was a massive lie.

Parents of students at Laurel Elementary School were shocked and wondered how she wasn't caught sooner.

"Wow. That's kind of scary. Because if she lies about that, she can lie about anything," said parent Ralie Ortiz.

The district wouldn't say how many days she actually skipped class, but according to her termination letter, she sent the school principal 120 letters over the course of a year.

When allegations surfaced about Barker's tale, district investigators said they found out her story was made up and that she and her father were not sick.

When the district confronted her, Barker said she was sitting at home the entire time.

When Channel 9 went to that home Wednesday night to get her side of the story, she was not available for comment.

There's no indication that this teacher got anything more out of the ruse than time off work.

She's fighting her termination and her case will now go to a formal hearing before a judge.

Emails to Barker and calls to her attorney were not returned.