Duval County School Board Moves To Fire Two Teachers Accused Of Violence, Profanity

Sep 8, 2014

Two Duval teachers - one  accused of punching a middle school student and another accused of repeatedly using profanities, including the F- and N-word in class - will not return to work.

Credit Duval County Public Schools

The Duval County School Board voted unanimously Monday afternoon to fire former Eugene Butler physical education teacher Michael Green and Joyce Quiller, a longtime math teacher, who worked with at-risk students in the district’s Bridge to Success program at Ribault High.

The Board’s decisions follows recommendations from two administrative judges earlier this year.

In June, a judge recommended that Green be terminated from his position after a complaint, filed last year, alleged that he punched a female student. Green had been a teacher for 10 years, according to his lawyer Tishia Dunham.

“What we’re asking is that he’s given a second chance,” Dunham said during Monday's hearing. “Mr. Green had no prior disciplinary [action] at all.”

But the board voted quickly to uphold his termination.

Board members took much longer to decide on the fate of 21-year veteran teacher Joyce  Quiller. Quiller was fired in February following multiple complaints from teachers and students that she used profanity and referred to her students by the N-word on multiple occasions.

According to an administrative order issued in May, she reportedly told a group of students in the predominately black class “you are some lazy n-----s for coming to class late."

Quiller had been disciplined three times before for inappropriate behavior, including for using profanity six months before her termination, a district attorney noted.

However, the judge ultimately ruled that by firing Quiller, the district had violated a three-step punishment process outlined in her union contract. Instead, the judge recommended that the district suspend Quiller without pay and transfer her to a less challenging position.

The case has drawn widespread attention from both local and national media outlets.

Monday, Quiller briefly took the stand before board members to answer questions. She told board members she volunteered to take the challenging position at her alma mater Ribault because she wanted to give back to her community.

“So you knew it was going to be a challenging situation,” Board Member Cheryl Grimes asked her.

Quiller said she was aware it would be difficult, but "was not prepared for the lack of materials and resources."

"It was very difficult to maintain the decorum for these students because we had no schedules for eight weeks," she said. "It was pretty much chaos."

Board Member Paula Wright recommended a 30-day suspension for Quiller, but that was rejected.

Instead, the board backed another recommendation made by Board Member Ashley Smith-Juarez to uphold the district’s earlier decision to fire Quiller.

Following that decision, Quiller and her attorney declined to comment. She will have an opportunity to appeal the decision in court.

You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.