FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. -- A local teacher quit her job over allegations she abused disabled children. Now, we've learned the teacher's union is fighting to get that teacher back in the classroom.
A Fleming Island Elementary School teacher has been off the job for almost a year now. Barbara Delong was put on paid leave after allegations she abused her autistic students. Delong was eventually cleared of all charges by the State Attorney's Office and Department of Children and Families.
But taxpayers were left picking up her annual salary of about $53,000 while the school disctrict decided what to do.
Action News has learned, Delong resigned last week. She left her position as a special needs teacher just two days before school board members planned to vote on whether or not to terminate her contract.
"The charges were false and that's been shown," said Steve Richards, President of the Clay County Education Association.
The Clay County Education Association wants Delong back in the classroom. Richards says since the charges didn't stick, she should be welcomed back at Fleming Island Elementary. "I think we're standing up for all of us that get wrongfully accused."
But Clay County Schools Superintendent, Charlie Van Zant Jr. disagrees. Action News obtained a letter he sent to school board members last week asking them to terminate Delong's employment.
The superintendent claims Delong violated six school policies. Documents from the district's human resources department detail accusations made by a para in the classroom, "reported physical slapping, kicking, standing on a child's feet and pulling a child's hair."
In a disposition report obtained by Action News, an assistant state attorney wrote, "The state expects the evidence will show the defendent uses physical manipulation of her students as a form of behavioral modification. There is no evidence of intent to do harm to her students."
The teacher's union stands by the state attorney's report and Delong.
"I don't believe there was enough substantial documentation behind it to justify a termination."
Both Delong and the school district did not want to comment for this story.