Judge Defends Math Teacher Accused of Misconduct

Florida math teacher, Steven Yerks, recently made waves in the local community when Administrative Law Judge Robert Meale recommended Yerks be rehired despite being discharged from Boyd Anderson High in Lakerdale Lakes after an annual evaluation revealed incidents of misconduct, among other criticisms.

School administrators had decided to release Yerks from his teaching position amid accusations that the math teacher showed a history of using racially charged remarks, insulting students, degrading coworkers, and staff meeting absences. In addition, a majority of students in Yerks’ advanced and remedial math classes had received failing grades, which often indicates inadequate teaching approaches.

This was not the first time that Yerks’ personal and professional conduct has come under scrutiny. While teaching at another Florida high school in Cooper City, Yerks was put on probation pending a decision to fire after allegations of misappropriating school funds and child abuse prompted an investigation in 2000. However, these charges could not be substantiated.

In retaliation, Yerks filed a grievance complaint and was thereafter transferred to Boyd Anderson High.

Following Yerks’ most recent trouble, Judge Meale reprimanded Boyd Anderson Angel Almanzar and Assistant Principal Lelsi Farr for firing Yerks based on a flawed and biased evaluation system, and manipulating observation tools to advance their own agendas. More specifically, Meale stated that school officials continued to award Yerks satisfactory reviews during the same years they made claims of misconduct. As a result, Meale became convinced that Yerks was a victim of unfair termination conditions and recommended he be rehired with back pay benefits.

Despite Meale’s defense of Yerks, the School Board has the ultimate authority over whether Yerks will teacher at Cooper City High again. And so far, it does not look good for Yerks. Lisa Maxwell, the active leader of Broward Principals’ and Assistants’ Association has publicly denounced Meale’s judgement, citing his blatant unfamiliarity with school evaluation practices.