Now You See it, Now You Don’t

By Danielle Woods — May 13, 2008 1 min read
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First Jim Piculas had a job, then he didn’t. The Florida substitute teacher claimed the Pasco County School District rubbed him off the substitute list because of complaints that he had practiced “wizardry” in the classroom, The Tampa Tribune reports.

Piculas, who was working toward teacher certification, said he thinks his disappearing toothpick trick—involving a toothpick, transparent tape, and sleight-of-hand—may have been interpreted by one of his middle school students as “wizardry.” The student was so rattled by the trick, according to Piculas, that the student’s father complained.

District officials said complaints from the classroom teacher that substitute Piculas didn’t follow lesson plans and lacked classroom control were the actual causes of his removal. “The toothpick demonstration was minor compared to the other problems,” said Renalia DuBose, assistant superintendent. The principal asked that he not return to the school.

Although Piculas says accusations of “wizardry” were his classroom ouster, the word never appears in the district letter he received, according to the Tribune. Piculas said the additional complaints were “window dressing” to mask the real reason for his removal. “I think she [district official] was trying to downplay it because it [classroom magic] sounded so goofy,” he said.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.