Osceola teacher who punished student with hot sauce fired

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OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - Former Osceola County special needs teacher Lillian Gomez sat in silence as the school board decided to throw out a judge's order and to never let her back in an Osceola County classroom again.

"We decided to put child safety first, and not put somebody back in the classroom that intended to do harm to children," said school board member Jay Wheeler.

District officials said that the harm came when Gomez soaked Play-Doh and crayons in hot sauce and then force fed them to an autistic student to teach him a lesson about eating them.

Gomez was suspended from her job in January.

"This person never intended to harm a child," said Michelle Vanderley, of the Osceola Teacher's Union.

When Gomez took her case before a judge last summer the judge recommended the teacher get her job back.

District officials said they have spent $50,000 on lawyers in the case.

"I find this to be borderline child abuse," said Wheeler. "Clearly there was a lapse in judgment, and to think that lapse in judgment was going to result in re-employment was fantasy.

Gomez refused to comment on Tuesday's action by the school board.