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Florida teacher to keep job after 'inappropriately' mentoring troubled student

by: Andrew Marra, Palm Beach Post Updated:

Samantha Major, a teacher at Boca Raton Community High School, is being fired because the school district says she developed a close relationship with a girl she mentored and cited the Bible while giving advice about her personal life.
Michael Ares/The Palm Beach Post

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Update: March 1

The Florida high school teacher who faced being fired after she informally mentored a troubled student is keeping her job.

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Samantha Major, 27, was the reigning “New Teacher of the Year” and a participant in Boca Raton High School’s mentoring program for struggling students when she became close with a 15-year-old student of hers. Major had been asked by her principal to participate in the school’s mentor program, in which teachers took students under their wings, and she’d accepted gladly. 

Conversations with the teen student were largely typical adolescent banter at first: college plans, boys, difficulties finding a part-time job. But as the last weeks of 2015 wound down, school records show that Major began to sense the girl was troubled.

Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa, whose administration tried unsuccessfully to arrest Major and then moved to fire her for violating school district policies, reversed his decision to terminate Major Tuesday in the wake of large public outcry and opposition from some school board members after a story about the case was published this past weekend in The Palm Beach Post.

To read the full story, click here.

Original story: Feb. 25

Samantha Major is a teacher whom a supervisor once dubbed “an absolute powerhouse of compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness, professionalism and excellence.”

Now she’s been banished from the classroom, relegated to months of paperwork duties in a school bus depot, targeted for criminal investigation and slated for termination. The county school board will consider the proposal to fire her Wednesday.

Her dizzying reversal of fortunes is, in large part, a story of the pitfalls that await teachers who make extended efforts to aid troubled students.

It is also one of how public schools push teachers to make extra efforts, often with little guidance or preparation, and then leave them to face the fallout.

Read the full story here.