Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dismissed last year in Pasco, teacher now on leave from Hillsborough school

TAMPA — Teacher Jeffrey Shank lost his job at Pasco County's Gulf High School for sending inappropriate text messages to a female student.

That was five months ago.

The Hillsborough County school district hired him this year to teach science at Freedom High School in New Tampa.

Now he's on leave.

District officials would not give any details Friday about why Shank was taken out of the classroom on Oct. 12.

There was no letter, said district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe, just a telephone call telling him he should stay away from the school. There is an investigation, Cobbe said.

"I've been advised not to talk about it," Shank said. But, when asked whether there were allegations of impropriety at Freedom, he said, "No. God no. Are you asking me if I texted a female student? Not at Freedom."

Cobbe confirmed that the investigation has nothing to do with anything at Freedom.

It's unclear whether Hillsborough officials knew about the incident at Gulf, which was reported by the Tampa Bay Times, when they hired him.

If they did know, why didn't it matter? If they didn't know, why didn't they check his background or merely do an Internet search?

Cobbe said she could not answer those questions, pending the outcome of an investigation.

Hillsborough is the fourth Tampa Bay-area school district where the 33-year-old Shank, who is originally from Michigan, has taught science and coached basketball or football or sometimes both.

• • •

New teachers routinely are advised not to place themselves in situations that could be misconstrued, not to become Facebook friends with their students, not to meet with a student behind closed doors.

Shank said he learned that lesson while working at Hernando High School.

He was walking to campus one day in December 2008, carrying bags of equipment, when a female student offered him a ride from one part of campus to another.

"I took it as a student being nice to a teacher," he said. He was probably in the car for under a minute, he said.

When an administrator later asked whether he had been riding around with a student, he said no at first, then realized what the issue was and gave an explanation.

He received a warning not to ride with students or give them rides. He was also advised to answer truthfully when asked such questions, so as not to look guilty.

In 2010 he took a job at Seminole High School in Pinellas County. There were no problems there, he said.

At the end of the school year, he got a chance to be the head basketball coach at Gulf. He told a reporter he was impressed by players he had seen at a Pasco recreation center.

"When that opportunity came up, it felt like the right thing to do," he said at the time.

He coached the Buccaneers to a 10-14 record.

• • •

But in May, Pasco officials said he had an inappropriate text conversation with a female student.

In a 10:45 p.m. text, he said the student should have come to class to work on a project.

"BTW we need to chill one day," he continued.

The girl responded, "LOL yeah definitely."

"Especially after the way (your) a-- looked at me today LOL," Shank replied.

The student's parent showed the texts to district officials.

Shank now says there was more to that story. However, he declined to elaborate.

But he acknowledged it was wrong to send the texts.

Because he was in his probationary year, Pasco school officials simply let him go without renewing his contract.

Staff writer Danny Valentine contributed to this report. Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected]

Dismissed last year in Pasco, teacher now on leave from Hillsborough school 10/26/12 [Last modified: Friday, October 26, 2012 10:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning edges Red Wings on road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The digs were different, the Lightning seeing the masterfully-done new Little Caesar's Arena for the first time.

    Lightning center/Red Wings’ killer Tyler Johnson gets past defenseman Trevor Daley on his way to the first goal of the game.
  2. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated

    Footballpreps

    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  3. Clearwater police: Car thief dead after owner fires gun

    Crime

    CLEARWATER — One man is dead after the owner of a car fired shots at the thieves who were stealing it Monday night, police said.

  4. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive

    World

    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  5. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.