Two years ago, a student at Don Estridge High Tech Middle School found a quick, easy way to fix a failing grade in art class: the student’s parent donated $50 for classroom art supplies.
In exchange for the donation, state officials say, art teacher Torrey Green changed the student’s class grade from an F to a B.
The Palm Beach County School District did not fire Green – records show he’s still teaching at Don Estridge Middle, a public school in Boca Raton.
But now the state’s Education Practices Commission has ruled that Green’s actions violated Florida’s teacher conduct rules, and they’ve handed down a punishment.
Green, 40, will be fined $750 and will have to spend three years on probation, which requires paying an additional $150 a year to cover the administrative costs of his probation.
He will also have to take and pass a college-level class in education ethics.
The state commission weighed the case in October and sent a letter to Green on Dec. 1.
“By your actions, you have lessened the reputation of all who practice our profession,” wrote Christina Basso, a Miami-Dade County teacher who is the commission’s presiding officer. “The profession cannot condone your actions, nor can the public who employ us.”
It’s not clear what – if any – punishment Green received from the school district. The district’s offices were closed this week for the winter break, and a spokeswoman said no information about the case was immediately available.
Green, who has worked at the school for more than a decade, blamed the December 2014 incident on a lapse in judgment that stemmed from his yearslong battle with chronic kidney problems.
“A month prior to this incident, I had been in a coma for two weeks,” he said in a written statement. “I returned to school before I was ready because I felt an obligation to the students, and I had a lapse in judgment as a result of going to work before I was mentally and physically well enough.”
In 2014, Green was featured in news stories as the school and students’ families raised thousands of dollars for him to fly to New York for a life-saving kidney operation, thanks to a New Jersey woman who saw a story about his predicament on TV and offered to donate one of her kidneys.
The surgery was a success, according to a report by New York TV station PIX 11.