Friday, Aug 22, 2014
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Allegations against teacher to be considered by state on appeal

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BROOKSVILLE - The Hernando County School Board voted Tuesday to refer the decision to the state on whether action should be taken against a legally entangled social studies teacher's license.

The decision came after Jesse T. Mockler, 36, appealed school superintendent Lori Romano's recommendation that the board fire Mockler from his position at Powell Middle School.

Romano made the recommendation after an internal investigation alleged Mockler falsified his teaching certificate renewal application, potentially provided a false written statement knowingly and failed to report a criminal conviction to the Florida Department of Education.

Following an appeal letter submitted to the district by Mockler's attorney, Romano amended her recommendation that Mockler's case be considered by the Division of Administrative Hearings, or DOAH, which provides dispute resolution to Florida governmental entities.

Also part of Romano's recommendation was to suspend Mockler without pay starting Wednesday, which the board approved.

When asked in an Aug. 22 predetermination meeting why he didn't renew his teaching certificate prior to the June 30 deadline, Mockler said he could not afford the $104 certification cost between attorney fees and moving expenses.

Mockler also said he never received letters to renew his teaching certificate.

The Florida Department of Education denied Mockler's certificate application in 2008, the district's investigation showed.

The school district's Human Resources department notified Mockler in August 2010 that his certificate was suspended for failing to meet the terms of a final disciplinary order requiring him to complete consecutive drug tests.

Court records show Mockler was sentenced to one year probation on July 18 for a misdemeanor DUI charge and for refusing to submit to a breath test.

Mockler previously faced a battery charge in 2012, which was later dropped after the victim wrote a letter to the State Attorney's Office requesting the charge be dismissed.

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