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Polk County superintendent recommends firing academic chief after allegations of harassment, threatening behavior

Posted at 9:31 PM, Feb 19, 2020

POLK COUNTY, Fla. – Michael Akes’ tenure as the chief academic officer of the Polk County Public Schools appears to be all but over after what the school superintendent had to say about him.

On Wednesday, Polk County Public Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd released a letter recommending Akes to be fired at the school board meeting on March 17.

Byrd’s letter also informed the current academic chief that he will be suspended without pay starting February 28. Akes had been on paid administrative leave amid “an investigation into communications” Akes had with Stephanie Yocum, the president of the Polk Education Association, according to Byrd’s letter.

Byrd said in the letter that Akes’ actions constituted a serious misconduct and warrants a termination.

Byrd concluded in her letter to Akes that he violated the school board’s anti-harassment policies and that he showed threatening behavior towards other staff members.

Yocum sent ABC Action News the following statement:

"I'm relieved that Superintendent Byrd took a stand against a culture of fear and intimidation and that the behavior demonstrated by Dr. Akes will not be tolerated by any employee of Polk County Public Schools. The Polk Education Association has a vested interest in partnering with the district to change this culture to one of innovation and creativity. I look forward to working with Superintendent Byrd and her team to achieve this goal."

Akes has the option of requesting a hearing before the school board makes a final decision on the Mar. 17 meeting.