A Florida middle school teacher's habit of making sarcastic and demeaning comments to students could cost him his job, according to Pasco County school district records. Superintendent Heather Fiorentino wants the board to fire Robert Fine, a Seven Springs Middle School science teacher, but Fine has filed an appeal seeking a hearing before the board. A date for that hearing will be scheduled at the board's Nov. 6 meeting, Assistant Superintendent Renalia DuBose said.
School officials have warned Fine for four years to stop making inappropriate remarks, Fiorentino wrote in a letter notifying the teacher of the plan to fire him. According to records: Fine told a student, "Honey, you look bad every day. Pages will be turning in the yearbook and mirrors will be smashing." He suggested a girl with hiccups look in a mirror to "scare" the hiccups away.
Once, when a boy called out an answer that a girl couldn't come up with, Fine told the girl she was a good ventriloquist because "you made the answer come out of the dummy in the back." Parents complained and some requested their children be moved out of Fine's class after this year's open house when Fine reportedly told the parents he was an "equal opportunity picker-oner" and his wife often reminds him to "stop tailgating the students."
"As this behaviour has continued over time, it has become increasingly difficult to keep students registered in your classes, as parents and students quickly lose confidence in your ability to provide meaningful and quality instruction," Fiorentino wrote. The school board suspended Fine without pay on Oct. 16, pending the outcome of his case. Lynne Webb, president of United School Employees of Pasco, told the board the union would appeal on Fine's behalf. "I do feel this is a case that falls far short of termination," she said. Fine told district officials that the use of sarcasm and humour was his way of building rapport with students, Fiorentino's letter said.