Ex-substitute teacher accused of wizardry05/07/08 Mitch E. Perry
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A former substitute teacher in Land O' Lakes claims he was fired by the school district because he was "accused of wizardry."
Jim Piculas had been teaching as a substitute for the past year. He was working at Charles Rushe Middle School in late January when he performed a magic trick in class. That trick cost Piculas his job and maybe his livelihood, he says.
Piculas told WMNF today about the trick that led to his being fired by the Pasco County School District.
In the letter sent by Pat Sinclair, who manages the substitute teacher program in Pasco schools, "wizardry" was not the only accusation against Piculus. He was also charged with not following lesson plans and allowing students on computers even though they had been instructed not do so.
Piculus denies that, saying only two students were allow to go on computers to study FCAT spelling words.
He was also charged with allowing a fifth period student peer to be in charge.
Piculas says he can’t get before the Pasco County School Board, or with other officials responsible for hiring. He says they won‘t even meet with him. He says he’s written to Congressman Gus Bilirakis, who he says then contacted the state about the issue. Piculas says they wrote back to Bilirakis saying that education is a state, not federal issue, and therefore his request for information had no merit.
Gov. Charlie Crist’s office wrote back saying each school district’s office is responsible for their own hiring practices, and they could have no input, Piculas says.
Jim Piculas says he’s not sure what he’s going to do next.
WMNF talked to a spokeswoman for the Pasco County School District, Renalia DuBose. She did not want to go on the air, but said the magic trick was minor, and just one of many issues that that school officials had with Piculus. She said there were concerns about his classroom management and that the classes he taught were "very unruly."