Land O' Lakes High Teacher Fired for Looking at Students' Group Facebook Page
Angelica Cruikshank has been suspended since February.
The Pasco County School Board voted Tuesday to uphold the superintendent's recommendation to fire Land O' Lakes High spanish teacher Angelica Cruikshank.
Cruikshank was suspended in February after parents complained that she had improperly gained access to a student-created Facebook group page to see if they had said anything negative about her or other students.
Cruikshank said the page, which was a "secret group" page on the social network site, was brought to her attention by a concerned student. Cruikshank did not look at the personal pages of the students, just the group page, she said.
An appeal was held in July. The board's decision was delayed to allow time for the lengthy hearing transcripts to be reviewed by all parties.
"In reviewing the documentation and the testimonies of the students and the teachers, the one thing that really stood out in my mind is that the teacher is a professional, and needs to act like a professional and needs to act like the professional in the room," board vice chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong said.
“I don’t think that happened,” she said.
Board chairwoman Joanne Hurley agreed.
"I didn’t feel the employee’s testimony was sufficient to change my mind," Hurley said.
The decision to uphold the superintendent's recommendation for termination was unanimous.
"I have been teaching for eight years and nothing like this has ever happened," Cruikshank said Wednesday. "I loved those kids, I loved being in the classroom."
Cruikshank said she, along with a concerned student, brought the Facebook page to the school administrator's attention a week before she was suspended.
She was trying to do the right thing in the situation, but the incident doesn't define her, she said.
"Who I am is not what happened in the building that day when I was trying to do my best," Cruikshank said.
"All I want is to teach and make a difference," Cruikshank said. "From now we'll see where God takes me."