WHISPERING PINES ELEMENTARY VIOLATES FL DEPT. OF ED. RULES

News Palm Beach County Schools

Palm Beach County School District Refuses To Provide Gifted Teacher After Mid-Year Shakeup. 21 Positions Open At School.

BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — The Palm Beach County School District will officially violate Florida Department of Education rules Monday morning as it is assigns two non-gifted certified teachers to a gifted fourth grade class at Whispering Pines Elementary School in West Boca Raton.

The extraordinary violation comes as the original fourth grade gifted teacher was promoted to an administrative post mid-year. The class is an advanced gifted class with fourth grade children following a late fifth grade math curriculum. The program is known as “AMP.” These fourth graders take the fifth grade Florida State Assessment.

We are not, at this time, naming the replacement teachers. They have done nothing wrong. But public records reveal a disturbing image of what The Palm Beach County School District considers to be “gifted” education. The violation is outraging parents of students served by Whispering Pines Elementary which includes the Bridges, Seven Bridges, Boca Bridges, Dakota, Mizner Country Club and other new and legacy communities — including the Whisper Walk area — in the area of Clint Moore and Lyons Road. 

Teachers contacted by BocaNewsNow.com say using non-certified teachers for gifted classes diminishes the value of teachers who have earned certification through additional coursework.

“This is like a family physician performing open heart surgery,” said a teacher who does not work at Whispering Pines but fears retribution. “The school district must respect specialized certifications. Certified teachers cost more than non-certified teachers. There’s a reason why.”

Teachers in Palm Beach County earn between $41,000 and $84,000. Advanced degrees and extra certifications, like gifted or autism certification, add up to $6,000 annually.

The Whispering Pines move violates multiple Florida DOE rules which require gifted classes to be taught by gifted teachers, parents to be notified when that doesn’t happen, and all parents in a class being given the option to move their children to other classes taught by certified instructors. 

Known as “out of field” notification, the school district must notify parents that their children are being taught by an instructor who is “out of field” from their area of expertise.

Peter Licata
Dr. Peter Licata, South County Regional Superintendent. He has assigned others to handle Whispering Pines staffing issues.

Rule 6A-1.0503 also states a Florida school district can only utilize a non-gifted certified teacher when no certified teachers are available. A Palm Beach County School District representative would not confirm that there are no other gifted certified teachers available in the 11th largest school district in the United States. 

In the Whispering Pines fourth grade situation, one of the fill-in teachers holds advanced certifications but not “gifted” certification. The other teacher only holds a temporary certificate with no advanced certification at all. One will handle math. The other reading. The Florida Standards Assessment Test, which tests reading and math in students statewide, is two months away.

BocaNewsNow.com has learned this may be the only fourth grade classroom in all of Palm Beach County utilizing multiple teachers who are only present for part of the day. 

While the Whispering Pines situation is not the only example of “out of field” teachers teaching, it is an example of a problem plaguing the Palm Beach County School District which refused to report how many classes in the district are taught by “out of field” instructors. The problem affects special needs classes as well as gifted.

Administrators are on the defensive. 

Dr. Glenda Sheffield, Chief Academic Officer for the Palm Beach County School District, placated a parent raising concern through email, simply writing “your commitment and dedication for all children is very much appreciated.” She stated she was forwarding the issue to Deputy Superintendent Keith Oswald.

Deputy Superintendent Keith Oswald, who oversees all principals, refused to respond to parents on the Whispering Pines issue. 

Dr. Peter Licata, regional superintendent in South Palm Beach County, assigned other administrators to the Whispering Pines issue. 

A senior school district source, speaking to BocaNewsNow.com on the condition of anonymity, stated administrators are setting up Principal Barbara Riemer to take the blame from apoplectic parents, even though they have not provided to her the resources to fill the vacant position  — or several others at the school — with qualified instructors.

There are currently 21 vacant positions at Whispering Pines, including a teacher for autistic students. 

Another senior level source told BocaNewsNow.com that it is “unrealistic” to believe there are no gifted or autism certified teachers in Palm Beach County who want to teach in Boca Raton. 

There was no immediate response from school board members contacted by BocaNewsNow.com Friday evening.