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ST LUCIE COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - A St. Lucie County teacher lets classmates vote a child out of class. That teacher is now breathing a sigh of relief as her punishment was changed Wednesday. "The motion carries unanimously," says the head of St. Lucie School Board.
It was a tearful day for kindergarten teacher Wendy Portillo. "I think that, even though it's been hard, the right things will come out of this." A joyous outcome for her at the end of a 90 minute hearing.
Queen Townsend said, "Mrs. Portillo deserves better than what she's received."
The emotions ran high all night. One Portillo supporter said, "She treats them with love, thoughtfulness and kindness."
Friends and family came to her defense. Her son, Zak, said, "Not only was her service postponed, also her lifeline severed."
Portillo's current sentence: a one year suspension and loss of tenure. Wednesday night the board had to decide: Would they uphold it or change it? A board member says, "It not about emotions. This is about what we have to do by law."
Wendy's lawyer approved the one year suspension, ending this November, but wanted her to keep her tenure ensuring she would have a job year after year. In the end, the board decided to change the ruling. Wendy Portillo will now keep her tenure. "I am very grateful to the board for their decision," said Portillo. "I know it was hard; there aren't any words."
Wendy never expected this. Neither did the mother of the boy in the center of all of this: Melissa Barton. "It wasn't enough. She needs to be fired. Bottom line: You discriminate against a child, you need to be fired."
Barton is disgusted by all of this. Portillo says she hopes the best for her son and is glad this is all over.
The school board said this was a tough night, and, most likely, Portillo will be back in school come this fall. The board will make all of this official at the end of June.
Melissa Barton will be in front of the board in July. She is suing the school district.