Janine Alexander: Former teacher takes student to court for theft, says she was then fired

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - A thirteen-year-old was in court Tuesday after her former teacher at Crestwood Middle School says the then seventh grader stole her cell phone.

The alleged theft happened last school year.

"It could have been resolved at school instead of having to come so far," the teen's mother Alia Lee said.

But the then seventh grade teacher says she was fed up after taking seven of her students' cell phones in just three months. She says the students were texting and making calls in class.

"I would put the phones in an envelope, time date it, and seal it so there was no question how I handled the matter," teacher Janine Alexander said.

Alexander says her phone was stolen off her desk in her classroom. So she says she went to the school resource officer.

"They tried to dissuade me from prosecuting and from taking the case any further," Alexander said.

She says her fellow teachers told her to drop it.

"A lot of them complain about it, but what I was hearing was just don't rock the boat," Alexander said.

She says one day after reporting the theft she was called to the principal's office and terminated. She believes the termination is related to her reporting the theft.

But a spokesman with the Palm Beach County School District says Alexander was terminated because of performance issues and that her termination had nothing to do with cell phones.

The district has the right to terminate teachers while they are in the probation period.

"I don't think she should have been fired," the teen's mother said after court.

The judge in the case acknowledged the former teacher in the courtroom and said, "I'm sorry you're not a teacher because you are one of the ones who really cared."

"This entire thing disrupted my livelihood and it caused me to have a record," Alexander said.

The teen involved apologized to the teacher after court. The case was continued.

Alexander's personnel file was requested, but it was not immediately available Tuesday.

She claims she was never written up or told about any performance issues.

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