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Florida Instructor Should Be Fired for Electioneering in Class, College Says

A mathematics instructor at Florida’s Brevard Community College should be fired, college officials said on Friday, because she used her classroom authority to push students to vote for President Obama last November.

In a written statement, the college said its president, James H. Richey, would recommend to its Board of Trustees that Sharon Sweet, an associate professor with tenure, be terminated for electioneering in class and fostering a “hostile academic environment,” both violations of the college’s code of conduct.

The recommendation, which accused Ms. Sweet of “harassment, incompetence, misconduct, and unprofessional behavior in the workplace,” followed a three-month investigation that began after a parent of one of Ms. Sweet’s students complained. Ms. Sweet was found, in some cases, to have forced students to sign cards pledging to vote for Mr. Obama and other Democratic candidates.

“Professor Sweet’s actions caused students to feel considerable discomfort, to believe their privacy was being invaded, to fear their grade could be negatively impacted if they refused to sign the pledge cards, and to feel intimidated,” the statement said.

The board will hold a hearing before voting on the recommendation, the statement said, and in the meantime Ms. Sweet will be on paid suspension, under the terms of the faculty’s collective-bargaining agreement.

Ms. Sweet, who took a leave of absence after the investigation was disclosed, could not be reached for comment by FloridaToday.com, a local news source. The president of the campus chapter of United Faculty of Florida also could not be reached, FloridaToday.com reported.

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