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Teacher accused of FCAT cheating

By TIMES STAFF
Published May 2, 2007


LAND O'LAKES

Barbara Heggaton, a special education teacher at Moon Lake Elementary School, could become the first Pasco County educator fired for cheating on the FCAT.

Superintendent Heather Fiorentino wants to dismiss Heggaton, who is accused of giving answers to three students while the test was being administered. She has been suspended without pay since March 7.

"I don't believe that a teacher should cheat, and providing the answers would be cheating, " Fiorentino said. "It's not a proper role model for what we expect teachers to do."

Heggaton, who has no other disciplinary actions in her personnel file, has appealed Fiorentino's recommendation to the School Board. The board had scheduled a hearing for May 15 but Heggaton's lawyer, Melissa Mihok, said the hearing will not take place on that date because she had not been notified of the time in advance.

Heggaton could not be reached for comment.

Last year, a Hillsborough teacher lost her teaching certificate for compromising the test's integrity.

Pasco County has had cases where it has investigated teachers for FCAT violations in the past. No one could find proof of wrongdoing.

Heggaton's case has been referred to the state Education Practices Commission, which could revoke her teaching certificate. 

ST. PETERSBURG

USF names interim regional administrator

The University of South Florida St. Petersburg's associate vice chancellor of research and graduate studies has been named the school's interim regional vice chancellor of academic affairs.

Christopher D'Elia, 60, nationally recognized for his research on coastal, tropical and subtropical ecology, came to USF St. Petersburg in 2004.

A professor of environmental science and policy, D'Elia also serves as director of the Center for Science and Policy Applications for the Coastal Environment and the International Ocean Institute USA.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Middlebury College and completed a doctorate in zoology at the University of Georgia.

As regional vice chancellor of academic affairs, D'Elia will oversee all of the university's academic programs. His appointment begins July 1.

Elsewhere

BROOKSVILLE PICKS CITY MANAGER: Brooksville City Council late Tuesday chose former Seminole general services director Mitchell N. Bobowski as their top pick for city manager from among the three finalists. Negotiations on Bobowski's contract will begin immediately.

LARGO CHIEF TO RETIRE:

Fire Chief Jeff Bullock's decision, announced Tuesday, came as the city released a report that found he had used his position improperly to get a discount on a topper for his personal pickup.

COMPANY TO LAY OFF 52: A Palm Harbor company that processes Medicare claims announced Tuesday it would close its office and lay off 52 employees this summer. Representatives of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, the parent company of Palmetto GBA, said the move was part of an effort to restructure the company's Medicare operations. The Palm Harbor office, at 34650 U.S. 19, will close July 27.