PORT ORANGE (CNN) – A north Florida teacher who was caught on camera mowing his lawn while nude is fighting to get his job back.
The teacher was demoted to a nonteaching position after he was recorded, but the teachers’ union says the punishment does not fit the crime, Volusia United Educators President Elizabeth Albert said.
Albert said that when longtime teacher Brian Wheeler mowed the yard naked at his Port Orange home in 2017, he made a very poor decision.
A neighbor recorded Wheeler and filed a police complaint.
Wheeler was charged with exposure of sexual organs and disorderly conduct. The exposure charge was dropped and the disorderly conduct dismissed in a deferred prosecution agreement. Wheeler was not convicted of a crime.
“This is a man who has over two decades of history teaching children in our community and successfully teaching them,” Albert said.
Wheeler was working at Cypress Elementary in Port Orange when he was removed. He was a tenured teacher with an unblemished record.
Many parents and colleagues supported him, however, a handful of families of young children did not.
School district officials, who gave Wheeler a written reprimand along with a demotion out of the classroom, refused to reconsider.
In addition to Volusia County, the Florida Department of Education investigated and just this past May found probable cause in Wheeler’s case to pursue disciplinary action. The complaint will be heard in October.
However, Albert said a settlement has been reached in Wheeler’s case and the October hearing is just a rubber stamp.
According to Albert, Wheeler will be fined but will retain his teaching credential.
Allowing Wheeler to keep his credential would “infer that officials feel that he is still of the caliber that is able to work with our kids and teach,” Albert said.
Albert said that since the school district has so far refused that, the union will arbitrate on his behalf.
Wheeler never lost his teaching certificate, so he’s had the option to teach elsewhere in Florida, but union representatives say he’s committed to Volusia County.
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