Teachers union weighs in on Estero cheer coach firing
Union says Estero coach's firing "could have been handled better," will watch school board "more closely."Photo: Video by fox4now.com
FORT MYERS - The Lee County School District dropped the ball firing Estero cheer coach and Hooters waitress Nicole Zivich, according to the teachers union.
"I think the situation could have been handled better," said Donna Mutzenard, the executive director of local teachers union Island Coast FEA.
Mutzenard says Zivich should have been given an opportunity to defend herself after one parent, Sue Jacobse, sent the district a barrage of emails criticizing her.
"I would say yes in this case it was one parent" who got her fired, said Mutzenard.
"And if it was just one parent who caused her to be fired is that right?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
"Probably not," Mutzenard responded.
Jacobse had an ally in school board member Jeanne Dozier, who told Superintendent Joseph Burke it was "time for some form of action to be taken" and to "please take care of this right away."
"That may have been crossing the line," said Mutzenard.
"Can a board member do that?," asked Grant.
"Well they probably shouldn't," said Mutzenard.
Even though the Florida School Board Association tells board members not to get involved in personnel matters, Mutzenard says that rule isn't always followed.
"It's not uncommon," she said. "They get they are lobbied all the time."
In this instance, Dozier was lobbied by Jacobse - who campaigned for her and admits the two have a friendly relationship.
We asked Mutzenard if she worries that a single passionate parent could get a teacher fired.
"Yes, I always worry about that," she said. "And I have represented teachers in the past because of complaints."
Another complaint she has is that Burke told the board he had no role in Zivich's firing even though emails show he told Dozier the principal had been "advised to look for replacements."
"It raises my antenna to watch things a little more closely," said Mutzenard.
According to state statutes, Mutzenard says first-year teachers and part-time employees can be fired at any time for any reason without hearing their side.
Still, she thinks the district owes Zivich an explanation.
"Personally I think an explanation is always deserved when somebody is terminated," said Mutzenard. "But they don't have to."