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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Skycrest Elementary teacher could be fired for allegedly abusing two students

A Skycrest Elementary School teacher faces firing for allegedly abusing two special needs students earlier this year.

Melanie Jo Fox, 44, of Clearwater, was arrested in late March and charged with two counts of child abuse. She was accused of pulling a 6-year-old girl’s hair, hitting her with a book, kicking her, and binding her hands with tape. Clearwater police said that she pushed an 8-year-old boy and bound his wrists with a rubber band. Classroom assistants also said that Fox regularly belittled students.

Pinellas County Schools superintendent Mike Grego has recommended to the School Board that Fox be fired, effective Tuesday. Fox has been on paid administrative leave since the week of her arrest; she was removed from contact with children prior to her arrest.

Board members are expected to vote on Grego’s recommendation Tuesday.

Fox had no prior discipline at the school district. According to the district, Fox denied most of the allegations. She did, however, admit to putting “small pieces” of tape on a child’s hands for a few seconds because “it made her laugh.” She also said that she wrapped a rubber band around a child’s wrist three times to show him that it “should be loose.” That was only after the child wrapped the band around his finger, causing it to turn purple, she said.

The school district’s investigation is separate from law enforcement actions. Fox, who bonded out of jail, is scheduled to appear again in court in July.

Fox was hired full-time at Skycrest Elementary in late 2005. She earns about $38,296 a year.

Fox can appeal Grego’s recommendation to the state. If she does, she will be placed on unpaid administrative leave, pending the outcome.

[Last modified: Thursday, June 6, 2013 3:46pm]


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