Accused teacher support strong among parents, community members

Thursday, April 5, 2012

In an act of solidarity and backing for suspended Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) lab instructor, Mila Floro, a group of parents, current and retired teachers, former and current students and community members amassed past and present letters of support, as well as recommendations. Representatives from the Arkansas Department of Career Education, EAST lab facilitators in other schools, and individuals including Gov. Mike Beebe, Rep. (now Sen.) John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), retired Eureka Springs School Superintendent Wayne Carr and Eureka Springs City Attorney Tim Weaver, were on the extensive list of supporters.

The forty-plus letters also included a petition signed by 17 current Eureka Springs High School teachers.

Signed letters were collected and copied for presentation to the Eureka Springs School Board, and included a cover letter from MIT InvenTeam 2011 parent, Gayla Wolfinbarger, which explained the group had been gathering the letters when they learned Floro had resigned.

"We want to express how upset we are that Ms. Floro resigned," the letter reads. "These letters show how much Ms. Floro is respected in Carroll County and in the State of Arkansas. She has been shamefully treated and we sincerely request your help in clearing her name."

The teacher was placed on paid leave after a state audit revealed discrepancies in how money collected for a student trip to MIT was handled.

The school board convened in a special meeting Tuesday evening and chose a new superintendent for the district and decided to accept Floro's resignation.

Because the date for Floro's hearing before the school board was granted an extension due to lawyers' request, she has not yet had the opportunity to make her case.

One letter among those given to the board explains that parents themselves came to a decision about how the money was to be handled, and Floro agreed. The letter also specified the money never belonged to the school district, but to parents and supporters of the InvenTeam Robotics team.

The letter also acknowledges that mistakes were made, and, like many other letters in the packet, claims there was no reason to take things as far as the school did.

Some letters cited a lack of communication and support from the high school principal.

Because the case has gone into litigation, neither school principal, Kathryn Lavender, nor Floro, can make any comment. Floro's attorney, Tim Snively, did not return repeated calls from the Citizen Tuesday.

"This could easily have been, and should have been, solved in-house," parent Janna Jones told the Citizen. "It was not a big deal, but no-one from the school came to any of us who were involved and nobody knew anything until Mila was put on leave."

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  • She has been shamefully treated?

    She was suspended with pay. How is that being shamefully treated?

    Didn't she admit to taking the money? That's stealing.

    -- Posted by Atlas Shrugged on Thu, Apr 5, 2012, at 8:55 PM
  • She stole from the school and the auditors caught it. The police were notified by the auditors not the school. She embezzled school funds!!! SHE RESIGNED BY HER DECISION! THIS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION! Especially not the principal or the superintendent. When you break the law, you will pay and unfortunately, it happened.

    -- Posted by chjiae on Fri, Apr 6, 2012, at 3:21 PM
  • Obviously the above two know very little about the facts of this case, its background or the administration's part in it. The FACTS will bear this out. WRITING SOMETHING IN CAPS DOES NOT MAKE IT ANY MORE SO. So unless you're privy to inside information, perhaps it would prove wise to refrain from making slanderous statements. Or perhaps this is personal???

    -- Posted by KeepOnTrucking on Sun, Apr 8, 2012, at 12:22 AM
  • Teachers are getting out as fast as they can - many are seeking work elsewhere - anywhere to get out, some are retiring to leave Eureka Springs High to escape the bondage and secrecy of Kathy Lavender and her puppet. Strangely, not as fast as the students are leaving. How many have left since she arrived? Ask a Board member. The Board and the Superintendent were aware, they had their chance, and now they are stuck with her for another year.

    -- Posted by thewanderer on Tue, Apr 10, 2012, at 8:11 PM
  • To say I'm shocked would indeed be an understatement.While serving as a board member in ES for 5 terms,I often came into contact with Ms. Floro. I know that she could at times be a little over-zealous,but always in support of her program and her students. I remember a teacher that was everywhere working for her program.I also remember her being the only teacher who came to the farewell party we hosted for our exchange student(She still writes this student on a regular basis). Ms Floro is an asset to E S H S,in one woman's opinion.

    -- Posted by Sarah Setzer on Wed, Apr 25, 2012, at 9:37 PM
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