• Marion County special needs teacher gets 3 years probation after assessment tests invalidated

    By: Samantha Manning


    MARION COUNTY, Fla. - A Marion County special needs teacher was suspended without pay for 20 days and has been placed on probation by the state for the next three years after she was caught committing various testing offenses.

    According to a report, the Florida Department of Education said that Megan Fairchild “misrepresented the scores of students” on assessment tests in 2015, resulting in four students’ tests being invalidated.

    The report said that the Maplewood Elementary School teacher filled out a test answer sheet for a student who was absent and was caught on camera using her phone and leaving the room with test materials out in plain sight.

    Fairchild teaches ”exceptional education students,” some of whom can only blink to communicate.

    The difficulty of the job was taken into consideration when she received a 20-day suspension without pay, as opposed to being fired, Marion County Public Schools spokesman Kevin Christian said.

    “I think you have to consider that this teacher is in a classroom of students who don’t verbally communicate and, in fact, in some cases don’t even communicate at all sometimes,” Christian said. “That certainly doesn’t make it right, what she did, but nevertheless, those are extenuating circumstances.”

    Parent Danielle Leighton didn’t think Fairchild’s punishment was severe enough.

    Her actions, Leighton said, hurt the very students she was hired to help by not giving them a fair shake on a state exam.

    “I think it should have been a harsher punishment,” Leighton said. “If (the students) can’t perform, then the school needs to know so they can meet the needs of the student.”

    Fairchild is on probation with the state for the next three years and is required to take a course in education ethics, the  Florida Department of Education said.

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