Florida Virtual School tells teachers to move to Florida or lose their jobs

Teachers, staff in 18 states told to decide by Tuesday

By Mike Holfeld - Investigative Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Thirty-three virtual instructors and support staff, many teaching high school math, science and world history from 18 different states, have been told by the Florida Virtual School in Orlando to relocate to Florida or lose their jobs.

According to FLVS spokesperson Tania Clow, the school’s executive board decided the out-of-state positions were too expensive to continue.

In a statement to News 6, Clow said in part, “positions were analyzed based on the cost of out-of-state employment and the necessity of continuing those as out-of-state positions.”

Lauren Masino, a seventh-grade science teacher and mother of two, told News 6 the decision forces employees to upend their lives without explanation.

“I don’t know what I am going to do,” Masino said. “They have given us an ultimatum, we will not have jobs.”

News 6 requested a cost comparison for in-state versus out-of-state virtual teachers but the school did not provide specific data in the formal reply to our request.

“There is an additional cost for employees out of state," Clow said. “This includes travel to Florida for our annual In-Service Training Days and other required face-to-face trainings and meetings.”

Masino, who has been with FLVS for nine years, said the explanation doesn’t really hold up.

“My flight from Raleigh-Durham to Orlando was cheaper than the gas they reimbursed me for
when I used to drive from Cape Coral," she said. “So cost? I have no idea how that comes into play.”

Clow said the cost to comply with other state’s laws in relation to unemployment, worker’s compensation and tax requirements was also a factor in the relocation decision.

Peter Billingsley, a world history teacher for FLVS for 25 years, said the decision leaves him little time to sell his home, find a school for his children and allow time for his wife to find a job.

“I’m an educator, it doesn’t matter where I am to educate the children of Florida," a frustrated Billingsley said. "I suspect I’m going to be out of a job and my family will be in turmoil."

A recent teacher review of his work thanked the veteran history teacher for “providing our students with authentic and meaningful learning experiences.”

Both Billingsley and Masino have top-rated evaluations, despite teaching from North Carolina. 

Masino, who attempted to unionize virtual teachers, said they never were told their future contracts would be based on their address.

Human Resources provided the latest hiring policy:

FLVS will not offer employment to candidates residing outside the state of Florida or employ people outside the state of Florida unless:
•    There is a critical-need position identified that cannot be filled with a qualified Florida resident; or
•    The primary work of the position is required to be done outside the state of Florida; or
•    The employee living out of state would save FLVS money.

It’s not clear if teachers will receive unemployment or severance if they are not retained on staff.

Teachers who do agree to relocate must be in Florida by June 30.

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