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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Changes continue at Pierce Middle School

18

October

What ever happened to Ingrid Peavy, the Pierce Middle school teacher suspended without pay after a child ran away -- and Lisa Haglund, the supervisor who wrote two letters in Peavy's defense?

Peavy is awaiting a termination hearing, tentatively scheduled for December.

And Haglund has been moved out of the school.

She is now at North Tampa Alternative School, a center for misbehaving students, with an enrollment of 168. Contacted by email, Haglund declined to comment on her situation or Peavy's.

The move to North Tampa was short-term, with Haglund headed for another transfer to Martinez Middle School. And school district spokesman Stephen Hegarty insisted the moves were not related to anything Haglund said or wrote about Peavy.

"The answer is no, no," he said.

Overall instability at Pierce -- which has had three principals in under a year -- is why Haglund and many other employees were transferred to other sites, Hegarty said. Indeed, a comparison of the directories from this year and last shows at least 32 employees have left Pierce, replaced by at last 36 new ones.

Quoting a district evaluation, the Tampa Bay Times reported that morale was so bad at Pierce last year, teachers were taking days off in large numbers and children were largely unsupervised between classes.

Hegarty pointed out that everyone - including the Times editorial board - called for changes at the Town 'N Country area school.

Peavy, meanwhile, faces a hearing before the School Board stemming from a finding of inadequate supervision on Oct. 29. On that day, a sixth-grader with special needs wandered off and walked six miles to his home, where he arrived unharmed.

The district said Peavy should have kept track of him in accordance with a plan implemented on Oct. 22 -- the same day special-needs student Jennifer Caballero disappeared from Rodgers Middle School in Riverview. Jennifer's body was recovered in a pond behind the pool that evening.

Child Protective Investigations, a civilian arm of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, took the Pierce case and found Peavy was at fault.

But Peavy's coworkers said she was unfairly singled out for discipline, and that during the week the child disappeared, officials were still fine-tuning his tracking plan. Emails obtained by the Times confirm that discussions about how to keep track of the child were still taking place in early November.

Haglund, then the school's ESE specialist, wrote two emails to School Board members, inviting them to investigate the matter further. In one, she called it "a travesty" that Peavy might be fired and added that the school's special-needs students suffered as a result.

At the request of School Board member Cindy Stuart, the district launched its own investigation of the Pierce incident. The Times has requested that report when the investigation is completed.

[Last modified: Friday, October 18, 2013 6:52pm]

    

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