A Broward teacher who was fired in connection to sexual abuse charges that were later dropped won’t get his job back, the School Board has decided, rejecting a recommendation from a state judge.
Now Wyman Gresham, a former teacher at Lauderhill 6-12, plans to ask the 4th District Court of Appeals to intervene, his lawyer said.
“We will definitely appeal. This man is getting screwed,” lawyer Bob McKee told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Wednesday.
Gresham told the Sun Sentinel on Wednesday he was angered by the board’s action.
“I’m an innocent man. I’m not happy with the decision at all,” he said.
The School Board’s action came at the end of a brief hearing Tuesday on Gresham’s case.
In 2017, three girls, aged 12, 13 and 16, accused Gresham of touching them inappropriately. They said the teacher touched their buttocks while hugging them and wiggled his tongue at them in a sexually suggestive way that made them uncomfortable.
Lauderhill police arrested Gresham in connection with two of the cases, and the Broward State Attorney’s Office charged him in one case, involving the 12-year-old.
The district moved Gresham to a job in the book depository, where he stayed for two years before being fired in December 2019. Even though Gresham hadn’t been proven guilty, the school district argued that the terms of his arrest prevented him from working around minor children, and they couldn’t replace him as long as he was still employed as a teacher.
The State Attorney’s Office dropped the charge against Gresham in February 2022, so Gresham challenged his firing. A state administrative law judge, Cathy Sellers, heard from two of his accusers in a hearing last year and decided they weren’t credible.
There were inconsistencies in their stories, the judge said. The incidents were reported to have happened in Gresham’s classroom multiple times in the fall of 2017. But during some of the possible dates they identified, Gresham was on bereavement leave or working a non-classroom job. Other times the school was closed due to a hurricane.
Sellers recommended in April the School Board rehire Gresham and give him back pay.
But the administrative law judge’s ruling is non-binding, and the School Board decided the judge has overstepped her authority.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Anastasia Protopapadakis, an outside lawyer representing the School Board, argued that the Sellers’ recommended order “was based solely on the credibility on the minor witnesses” and failed to address the main reason Gresham was fired — he wasn’t allowed at the time to be around students.
“This is an important part of this case because as a result of the no-contact order, Mr. Gresham, a teacher, could not have contact with students and could not perform the essential functions of this job,” she argued to the School Board.
McKee told the School Board that Gresham was unfairly fired due to conditions related to a criminal charge for which he was later cleared. The allegations came from “three young girls who decided to get together and tell a lie about Mr. Gresham,” McKee argued.
“He was prepared to go to trial and be vindicated. He never got that opportunity” since the charges were dropped, McKee argued. “The first opportunity that he got was before this administrative law judge. He was vindicated as a result.”
The School Board “didn’t give me a chance,” Gresham told the Sun Sentinel. “It’s totally unfair. They made the judge look like she was irrelevant.”