Published May 18, 2008
School administrators in Florida need a magic spell to ward off evil spirits from what they say is a false story circulating the Internet about a teacher fired for wizardry.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, Marge Whaley — member of the Pasco County School Board — said she at one point was getting as many as 50 angry calls and e-mails a day from people nationwide outraged over the school's decision to fire a substitute teacher.
On May 5 Local6.com reported that Jim Piculas said he made a toothpick disappear and reappear in front of students at the Rushe Middle School in Land 'O Lakes, Fla. He said he later got a call from the supervisor of teachers, saying he had been accused of wizardry.
"I get a call the middle of the day from head of supervisor of substitute teachers. He says, 'Jim, we have a huge issue. You can't take any more assignments. You need to come in right away,'" he told Local6.com.
But administrators say the firing of Piculas had nothing to do with the magic trick, the newspaper said. The school based their decision on complaints from teachers and parents who said that Piculas used profane language, couldn't control his class and put a student in charge, it was reported.
The district administrators said the story got over overblown when it spread like wildfire over the Internet.
But Piculas, who has become a cause célèbre to some to some, said he was concerned the incident may prevent him from being considered for future jobs.