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East County Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 10 months ago

State's settlement with School District of Manatee County superintendent rejected

Education Practices Commission rejects settlement with Cynthia Saunders.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Five months after the Florida Department of Education and School District of Manatee County Superintendent Cynthia Saunders reached a settlement about Saunders' alleged inflation of the district’s graduation rates, the Education Practices Commission has rejected the settlement.

In a statement, Saunders said she remains confident she “will prevail on the merits” as she explores further options.

“I am grateful for the continued support, and my focus remains on the mission of providing the best possible education for all Manatee County students,” she said in a statement released by the district.

Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart accused Saunders of two statute violations and five rules violations Dec. 6, 2018. The violations included filing fraudulent information, using coercive means or promised special treatment to influence professional judgements of colleagues and failure to maintain honesty in all professional dealings.

The Florida Department of Education reprimanded Saunders for her role in inflating the district’s graduation rates between 2014 and 2016 by instructing subordinate district employees to improperly code student withdrawals causing the district’s graduation rate to be improperly reflected.

If the settlement was approved, Saunders would be placed on two years of probation with a $750 fine. Now Saunders can go back into settlement negotiations or appeal to the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings.


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