Saturday, February 02, 2008  
Daytona Beach News Journal
Atlantic High science teacher fired after past catches up with her
November 28, 2007

DAYTONA BEACH - When she started teaching science at Atlantic High School in August, Connie Reynolds escaped a nightmarish career disintegration far, far away.

Her past caught up with her this week.

Volusia County school district officials fired Reynolds after learning from the news media why she was stripped of her license to practice psychology in Montana, said Nancy Wait, a district spokeswoman.

In 2003, Reynolds - then working as a psychiatrist in Montana - was accused of inappropriate sexual relationships with patients and other abuses. She later lost her license.

A tipster, Ken Kramer of Tampa, contacted the Daytona Beach News-Journal and other media organizations in recent days with those facts. Kramer is a board member of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a Scientology-affiliated organization that investigates and exposes psychiatric missteps.

Principal Ron Pagano fired Reynolds Tuesday without cause. She had not yet completed her 97-day probation period.

Reynolds, 52, of Ormond Beach, was making $39,903 to teach biology, anatomy and physiology.

When she applied for her job, she checked a box indicating that she has, indeed, had a license revoked. The application did not ask for details, and Reynolds said no one asked her about it during the hiring process.

Wait said the school district would not have hired Reynolds had it known about the allegations in Montana. Wait added that the box marked "Yes" should have raised red flags.

"We should have done some further inquiries," she said, adding that Superintendent Margaret Smith has met with personnel and professional standards staff to make sure procedures are in place to avoid such hiring mistakes in the future.

Reynolds, in a tearful telephone interview, said she doesn't think it was a mistake for her to be in the classroom.

"As far as I know, things were fine," she said. "I had an evaluation done (within the last month) and it was excellent."

She said she was honest about her past, which she said shouldn't continue to haunt her.

"I was accused of things in Montana," she said. "I denied them. I fought them. I went to an administrative hearing and it was essentially my  colleague's word against me, and an administrative law judge chose to believe her."

Reynolds remains hopeful that someone somewhere will give her another chance.

"I'm pretty devastated," she said. "I assumed (school district officials) did what they were supposed to do and that they cleared it. It's just not fair."  


No comments: