9 Investigates: Firing bad teachers



Why is it so difficult to fire bad teachers? WFTV found at least one superintendent and teacher who said the termination process needs to be updated.

Cydney Abrahms' tirade against an autistic student at Winter Springs High School was recorded on video, but it didn't get her fired.

Michelle McGhee, a third-grade teacher in Seminole County, brought a loaded handgun to school. She also kept her job.

Teacher Abby Sanchez said anyone in the private sector would have been fired.

"It's outrageous. We are sick over it. It's sickening that you are able to get away with this in the public school system," Sanchez said.

Superintendent Bill Vogel tried to fire Abrahms and McGhee, but was trumped by an administrative law judge.

"It seems like it's impossible for these teachers to get fired. That again, that is part of the due process that is in place," Vogel said.

The process was set by lawmakers in the 1970s, and some say it's outdated.

"I only think it's appropriate that the school board should have the final say on the penalty," Vogel said.

Going against the judge's decision sets a district up for an appeal. Abrahms appealed her case and won, costing taxpayers nearly $40,000 in legal fees.

K.T. Caldwell, president of the Seminole Teachers Union, said the current system of using outside judges works.

"There is a natural bias on the local level. They have a vested interest on the outcome," Caldwell said.

But critics said local administrators know what's best for their students. Lawmakers recently put an end to teacher tenure.

Supporters say this will help schools get rid of underperforming teachers, but a few bad apples may still be kept in the classroom.

So far this year, Orange County has fired three teachers for not performing well in the classroom.

Vogel said he works very well with the union to get teachers who are struggling to get the training they need and does counsel teachers to leave the profession if necessary.

WFTV called Jason Brodeur, who represents Seminole County to see if he would take another look at the legislation. He did not return our calls.