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Teacher accused of helping kids on test decides to resign

By KELLY RYAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 11, 2000


LARGO -- Rather than fighting allegations that she helped her students cheat on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, a Brooker Creek Elementary School teacher has decided to resign.

Superintendent Howard Hinesley had recommended that fifth-grade teacher Patricia A. McGill be fired for pointing out incorrect answers on the FCAT so her students could change them. The School Board was scheduled to decide whether to fire McGill at a meeting today. In her resignation letter, McGill flatly denies the allegations but says she doesn't want to fight Hinesley's recommendation because she doesn't want to subject her students to testifying before an administrative law judge.

"I find it very difficult to resign from a spotless, stellar 12-year career, but my ongoing concerns for my students' welfare is more important to me than my need to be cleared of wrongdoings, which I have not committed," McGill wrote.

Her resignation is effective Wednesday. McGill could not be reached for comment.

McGill, 36, was suspended without pay in February, soon after the test was administered. District officials said they investigated McGill's conduct because a student told her parent that something had happened during the math portion of the test.

A district investigator said McGill improperly helped 17 students.

McGill, who has worked for Pinellas since 1994, still must face an investigation by the state agency that can suspend or revoke a teaching certificate. Michael Schwartzberg, McGill's lawyer, said McGill likely would fight any punishment at the state level because she wants to teach again.

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