State Audit Finds Leon County School Board Erred in Giving Teacher Bonuses

State Audit Finds Leon County School Board Erred in Giving Teacher Bonuses

Tallahassee Reports has confirmed with the Leon County School Board that a state audit has determined that approximately 20 teachers received bonuses that must be returned.

The bonuses range from $5,000 -$10,000. The total amount expended by the error that occurred in 2017 was expected to be around $120,000.

The bonuses were part of the statewide program called the Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program which was implemented during the second half of 2015 after it was approved by the Florida Legislature during an earlier special session.

The program’s goal is to reward teachers deemed “highly effective” by disbursing “scholarships” in one-time payments.

To receive the bonuses, a teacher had to rate as “highly-effective” in their most recent evaluation. The teachers also had to score in the 80th percentile on college entrance exams in the year the teacher took the exam.

The error occurred when Leon School officials mistakenly submitted teachers for bonuses who were rated “effective”, not “highly-effective.” The audit caught the error and the district was required to return the bonus money to the state.

However, the teachers have already received the bonuses. Now the district is in the position of having to seek the return of the money from each teacher.

A similar issue came up in Gulf County in 2015. The district was forced to return in excess of $200,000 and seek recovery from teachers.

The Star in Port St. Joe reported that as of April 2017, “there remained just over $192,000 ultimately disbursed from the general fund and never repaid.”

13 Responses to "State Audit Finds Leon County School Board Erred in Giving Teacher Bonuses"

  1. I remember Superintendent Hanna saying “not on my watch”. Well Mr Hanna, this did occur on your watch. You should be held more accountable than the teachers. No doubt you will construct a notebook on the issue, send it to the FBI anonymously until you are politically motivated to add your name to it thus repeating your history of vindictive behavior at taxpayers expense.

  2. Oh, and I’m sure the local rag won’t weigh in on this issue. As long as they’re getting your money, they don’t care what happens with the tax you pay.

    Call 1-800-999-2271 to cancel.

  3. Take this story a step forward.
    We’re the 20 that got the payola “politically connected?”
    Why didn’t ALL the teachers rated as “effective” also get the extra taxpayer money?

    1. Good point. You have to actually apply for the money. It is not automatically awarded to all highly effective teachers. Why would these awardees even apply when they knew they didn’t qualify?? What is more concerning to me is the evaluations of these teachers by their own principals. Who’s to say the principals are even doing the evaluations? They could just fraudulently fill out the paperwork. No one would know. What if your principal didn’t like you and consistently rated you more harshly than other teachers? The whole idea of giving these bonuses was not well thought out. Too many arbitrary sets of criteria…how will a teacher on the Southside ever be rated highly effective when their students can’t read? But is that the individual teacher’s fault or the students’ previous teachers?

  4. You think these teachers didn’t know they weren’t rated “highly effective”? Looks like take the money and run to me.

  5. This comes as no surprise. The Superintendent was more concerned with getting rid of staff that supported the former Superintendent than he was/is attention to detail. Each of his 6 Associate Superintendents should be returned to the classroom with the Superintendent being held accountable for his knowingly false FBI investigation that cost $600,000 of tax dollars to investigate.

  6. It’s kind of stupid and not realistic to think these Leon County teachers are just gonna stroke out a five to ten thousand dollar check.
    Set them up with a low deduction from future payroll…say five or ten dollars from each check. With the remaining balance due from their retirement drop lump sum or something like that.
    Who cares if it takes 15 or 20 years to pay it back? It was not their fault. They got the money in error.

  7. We need to honor our teachers for the jobs they do. This error may involve taxpayer money. The error wasn’t by any fault of their own, nor was there any malicious intent. We need to develop loyal and dedicated teachers. The district does not accomplish this by punishing those who have no responsibility ir culpability for the error.

    I say let these teachers keep it.

    1. Keep it? What if you were a teacher who was rated ‘effective’ but did not get the bonus, but a fellow ‘effective teacher did get the bonus? Wouldn’t you want that bonus as well?

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