Shady past leads to teaching certificate denial

By Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 10/3/18

ORANGE PARK – An Orange Park man with a felony criminal history will not become a Clay County educator after the Florida Department of Education denied his application for a Florida educator’s …

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Shady past leads to teaching certificate denial

Posted

ORANGE PARK – An Orange Park man with a felony criminal history will not become a Clay County educator after the Florida Department of Education denied his application for a Florida educator’s certificate.

Samuel Carothers Keator II, 42, recently applied for a Florida educator’s certificate and on Sept. 19, was denied after a Sept. 5 hearing he did not attend. The Education Practices Commission of the State of Florida said Keator, who has both felony and misdemeanor charges on his record, lacks the “good moral character required to be a Florida Certified Educator.”

Keator’s charges date back to as early as May 24, 1999 for a misdemeanor charge for passing a worthless check. An earlier charge was redacted from the file. Less than two months later, Keator was arrested for a felony grand theft, according to the ruling.

Then, on November 22, 1999, Keator committed the felony crime of organized scheme to defraud. That December, Keator was charged with another misdemeanor charge of passing a worthless check, according to the DOE investigative report. After that charge, Keator wouldn’t be charged again until 2009. On June 16, 2009, he was found guilty of two misdemeanor charges of passing a worthless check, according to the ruling.

On May 25, 2013, Keator was arrested after committing grand theft and computer crime to defraud or obtain property, both felony crimes, according to the Orange Park Police Department report. On May 25, the owner of Southern Cross Total Lawn Care, the company Keator worked for at the time, contacted police after somebody used his company card to steal $403 from an ATM in the Kingsley Avenue Walgreens. Police spoke with the manager of the Walgreens and used video surveillance footage to identify Keator as the suspect.

According to the police report, Keator must have overheard his employer say the company card’s PIN number. The report also said the company never authorized Keator to use the card. When police questioned Keator about the incident, he admitted the crime. Police said Keator said he was aware he was not authorized to use the card did so anyway to pay his electric and cable bill.

Keator would run into the law again on July 16, 2013, when he was arrested for petit theft by knowingly calling a taxi without the intent to pay, according to the police report.

On that day, police spoke with the taxi driver who said he picked up Keator in his taxi at Orange Park Medical Center. The taxi drove Keator to 901 North Orange Ave. in Green Cove Springs, the Clay County Jail. Upon arrival, the driver told Keator the fare was $30.09, which Keator admitted he had no money and could not pay.

According to the police report, when officers spoke to Keator about this taxi ride, he said he was recently released from jail on charges of grand theft and computer crime and was on probation.

“He stated he had no where to go, no money and no food,” states the police report. “He said he felt desperate and didn’t know where to tun.”

In this desperation, Keator unsuccessfully attempted to get his probation officer to violate him and have him arrested. After that, Keator told police he called for a taxi to take him to the Clay County Jail because he knew that if he didn’t pay the fare, he would be arrested, according to the police report.

Years after those incidents, Keator applied for a Florida Educator’s Certificate and because of the crimes in his past, was denied a certificate. The Florida Department of Education ordered that Keator is denied issuance of a Florida educator’s certificate and barred from reapplying for one year, effectively a one-year probation period. During this period, Keator must pay a $500 administrative fine. This file also lists seven additional orders that Keator must follow if he is ever employed in a position that requires a Florida educator’s certificate. In the event Keator is hired by a private or public school for a position that requires a teaching certificate, he will be placed on a highly-monitored two-year probation period that includes paying a monthly administrative fee of $150 for the first six months of teaching. He must also remain crime-free and complete in-service coursework on education ethics.

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