A first-grade teacher in Polk County, Florida has admitted that she told school officials that both she and her father were dying of a terminal disease so that she could take a number of days off.
Laurel Elementary School teacher Ashley Barker managed to perpetuate what must have been an elaborate tapestry of lies for a year, reports Orlando ABC-affiliate WFTV.
School officials aren’t saying how many days Barker skipped. However, over the course of the year, she sent 120 emails to her bosses, who say they accommodated her many requests. They frequently allowed her to take days off and to leave work early.
Eventually, school officials became skeptical of the cockamamie ruse, reports Bay News 9 out of St Petersburg. After investigators concluded that Barker’s heart-wrenching tale was purely fiction, they confronted her.
According to WFTV, the teacher confessed that neither she nor her father had any incurable illness. Moreover, she confessed that she had spent the time off just sitting at home.
Parents who have children at the school expressed shock at Barker’s audacity.
“Wow. That’s kind of scary,” parent Ralie Ortiz told WFTV. “If she lies about that, she can lie about anything.”
Meanwhile, students called Barker a good teacher.
“I like to read with her,” first-grader Steven Rodriguez told Bay News 9. “That was the best.”
Local journalists could not reach Barker for comment.
The Polk County Schools superintendent has recommended that Barker should be fired. However, the shifty teacher is contesting her dismissal. Her case will receive a formal hearing in front of a judge.
Barker, a teacher with the school district since 2011, has been suspended without pay until the judge determines her fate.
In the meantime, notes Bay News 9, a substitute teacher is teaching Barker’s first-grade class.