Education Desk: Why Some Florida Virtual School Employees Must Move To Florida
Florida Virtual School has given some of its out-of-state employees a mandate: move to Florida or lose your job. Jeff Solocheck, education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, has been reporting on the story.
Catherine Welch: FLVS told not all of its out-of-state employees to either move or find another job but only some of them. Do you have a sense of who got asked an why?
Jeff Solocheck: My understanding is that about one third of this about 90 teachers who don’t live in Florida were asked, and there doesn’t seem to be any real explanation. They said that they were trying to allow people who were in what they called “high needs job” to remain out-of-state if necessary because they needed to hire those people still they needed to have them on staff. But in some cases I’ve heard that certain people who teach the same subject one was asked to come back to Florida and the other one was allowed to stay.
Welch: You wrote a piece on efforts to unionize FLVS teachers do you think this played a role?
Solocheck: It seems like it, although the FLVS people won’t say that is the case. Lauren Masino is the teacher, she lives in North Carolina, and she has been organizing the union effort. She is one of the people who was asked to sacrifice her job or sacrifice her life in North Carolina. She believes it to be the case.
I spoke to another teacher who also lives in Asheville, NC, Peter Billingsley, and he also was under the impression that the union is part of the reason that some of the teachers were asked, not all of them because not everybody was involved with the union effort.
Welch: FLVS told me in an email that they’re following procedures for out-of-state employees and looking at where having employees in-state would cut costs. What has FLVS said to you?
Solocheck Basically the same thing. They sent me a letter that was sent out by the head of the school, Dr. Marshall, to the teachers who were impacted. It basically just said that we made a decision that some of our programs would be better served by not having out-of-state positions. You can move to Florida if you want to keep your job otherwise we will be giving your job somebody else and we won’t renew your contract.
Welch: What have you heard from employees facing this option, are they moving to Florida?
Solocheck: Well it’s interesting they have this balancing act because on one hand they want to keep their jobs and they don’t feel like they’ve done anything poor in their performance. Lauren Masino, she told me that she was a highly effective teacher in her in her performance evaluations.
I spoke to Mister Billingsley, who I also mentioned. He’s been living out-of-state and teaching at Florida Virtual since 2004, and he’s 56 years old, and he’s worried that he may not be able to get any job if he doesn’t stay with it. But then he’s not sure that he wants to because he has two kids in high school, he has a home and a family in North Carolina. So he actually told me he interviewed for a part-time job with Florida Virtual Global, which is not the Florida (Virtual) School but the one that teaches other students in other places. He said that if he got that part-time job he’d be allowed to stay in North Carolina. So it’s kind of interesting the way that things are falling together.