Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Art teacher accused of sex with minor is fired

The Pinellas School Board fired Gerald A. DiPanfilo, a longtime art teacher at Seminole High School who allegedly had sex with a 17-year-old student he met in a St. Petersburg bar.

St. Petersburg police investigated the incident in 2007 and prosecutors never filed charges. But an administrative law judge recently found that DiPanfilo violated school district policies on sexual conduct as well as the state's teacher code of ethics. The board based the firing on the judge's findings.

DiPanfilo contended he did not know the 17-year-old male was a minor. But the judge ruled that, as a teacher, he "has an obligation to ascertain the age of persons with whom he is involved."

Board member Janet Clark voted against the action, saying there was no evidence the boy was enrolled in the system at the time. The boy, who has a lengthy criminal record, had been receiving an education while in custody at the county's Juvenile Detention Center, district attorneys said. He moved to a detention facility in Ocala and returned to Pinellas in the summer of 2007 expecting to re-enroll in the system. He was not a student at Seminole High.

"We're not talking about a child who was in (DiPanfilo's) classes," Clark said. "I think we're twisting things around when we say this was a student." She also argued that DiPanfilo, who was a teacher with the district 27 years, was not charged with a crime.

School Board attorney Jim Robinson responded: "We're a school district. Different standard."

Clark's motion for a lesser penalty for the teacher died without a second.

"I agree it's very unfortunate," board member Linda Lerner said, "but we hold our teachers to a higher standard."

Said board member Mary Brown: "He did something that I do not believe is excusable."

Art teacher accused of sex with minor is fired 09/23/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 3:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Hernando Sheriff's Office identifies bank robber killed after chase, places 7 deputies on administrative leave


    Authorities have identified a bank robbery suspect fatally shot by Hernando County sheriff's deputies after a wild chase Friday in which the fleeing suspect rammed several patrol cars in Brooksville.

    Scott Michael Chamberlain, 44, died after a deputy-involved shooting Friday. The Hernando County Sheriff's Office said that Chamberlaine attempted to rob a bank before taking deputies on a pursuit. (Florida Department of Corrections)
  2. No. 12 FSU, freshman QB James Blackman struggle in 27-21 loss to N.C. State


    TALLAHASSEE — Whatever was left of No. 12 Florida State's College Football Playoff hopes suffered a massive, likely fatal, blow Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.

    Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Nyqwan Murray (8) carries during the first quarter of the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  At the half, North Carolina State Wolfpack 17, Florida State Seminoles 10.
  3. Trump tells Warriors star Stephen Curry that White House visit is off


    SOMERSET, N.J. — Stephen Curry and President Donald Trump agree on one thing: The Golden State star is not going to the White House anytime soon.

    Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry poses for photos during NBA basketball team media day Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. [Associated Press]
  4. For starters: Rays at Orioles, facing another old friend in Jeremy Hellickson


    UPDATE, 3:29: Here is the Rays lineup, with Duda at 1B and Morrison the DH:

  5. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]