Tiffany Shepherd of Smokin’ Em Charters

A Florida biology teacher who works part-time for a charter-fishing company claims school officials are tossing her overboard because of bikini-clad photos of herself.

“You don’t wear jeans or slacks to go fishing,” says 30-year-old Tiffany Shepherd. “I wasn’t doing anything wrong.”

Shepherd’s full-time job was teaching the facts of life to students at Port St. Lucie High School. But she believes the online images are causing the stink with the St. Lucie County School District.

The buxom blonde from Fort Pierce, Fla., told the Palm Beach Post she took the afterschool job three weeks ago to help support her three young sons following a divorce, something she says is difficult to do on a teaching salary.

“I can make $600 in two days (fishing),” she said. “That’s a week’s pay for me in two days.”

The firm she works for is Smokin’ Em Charters, which was reportedly kicked out of the Fort Pierce city marina this month for violating the city’s family-friendly atmosphere.

The company’s website heavily promotes its “Bikini Girl Charters,” stating: “Can you think of two things that go together better then beautiful women and fishing?”

It is currently advertising for help, explaining, “We have a lot of trips booked and we are looking for some hot chicks to go fishing, no experience needed but you must be hot in a bikini!”

Shepherd told the paper she does not go topless on the boat, and doesn’t believe the job is inappropriate or at odds with her teaching position.

But are her claims merely a big fish tale?

District officials say Shepherd was given the hook for missing more than 30 days of school this year, with two written reprimands for the absences.

“She just doesn’t come to work,” Susan Ranew, assistant superintendent of human resources, told the Post. “We did not know about her second job until after she received her notice of non-renewal.”

Ranew claims a substitute was hired to finish the year for Shepherd after Shepherd missed a day shortly after she was told she would not be reappointed.

She explained teachers can be released without reason until they have successfully completed three years of instructing. About 150 teachers on average each year are asked not to return for a variety of reasons, including failing to complete certification requirements, poor performance or lack of content knowledge.

While Ranew said suggestive photos of Shepherd on the charter boat’s website could have posed a problem with the district’s code of ethics because they could undermine her effectiveness, she stressed it was the absences, not the photos, that prompted her ouster.

Shepherd said she’s had frequent migraines since being in a bad car accident, and thinks she missed some 20 days this year.

But she doesn’t believe her absences are the reason she was told to leave, claiming she knows of another teacher at Port St. Lucie High who missed three-quarters of the year for a stomach ulcer but was reappointed for next year.

“They can not reappoint me for that, that’s fine, but they fired me now,” she said. “That’s not the reason they let me go now. It’s Smokin’ Em Charters.”

The Post had an online poll, asking, “Is it appropriate for a teacher to be moonlighting on a bikini charter boat?”

More than 54 percent of respondents said yes, nearly 15 percent saying no, and more than 30 percent not caring either way.

The story has prompted some comments on Internet messageboards, including:

  • This story alone will result in thousands of marriage proposals from wealthy men.
  • I should think the male students would be rioting outside the school and setting the administration’s cars on fire.

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