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Former Nature Coast Technical High School coach loses state teaching certificate over affair with student

BROOKSVILLE — A former Nature Coast Technical High School physical education teacher and head football coach accused of having a romantic relationship with a student in 2009 won't be teaching again in Florida.

The state Education Practices Commission has voted to permanently revoke James "Jamie" Joyner's teaching certificate. It's the most severe of the sanctions the commission could have levied.

Joyner, 37, faced six counts of violations of state law or the administrative code. Among them: engaging in gross immorality or an act involving moral turpitude; exploiting a relationship with a student for personal gain; and intentionally exposing a student to unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement.

Last October, after a state-level investigation, then-Education Commissioner Eric Smith recommended the commission take action against Joyner ranging from a written reprimand to permanent revocation of his certificate.

Joyner requested an informal hearing, which means he did not dispute the allegations in the administrative complaint, a Department of Education spokeswoman said. He did not submit any materials for his case and did not attend the hearing last Friday in Tallahassee.

He could not be reached for comment this week.

Joyner resigned in April 2009 as the district investigated suspicions that he had a romantic relationship with a Nature Coast student, possibly before the girl turned 18. He denied having a sexual relationship with her.

The teen's family initially defended Joyner, telling school officials that they trusted him and didn't believe anything inappropriate occurred. Joyner and his then-wife, Kelly, a teacher and coach at Nature Coast, have two young sons, and the couple had dinners with the teen's family and exchanged gifts for special occasions.

Joyner told district officials at that time that he would not have any contact with the student or her family until the investigation ran its course. About a week later, a Hernando sheriff's deputy patrolling the area around the Microtel Inn in Ridge Manor West saw Joyner's truck and the student's car parked in the hotel lot. The student, who at that point was 18, told authorities she was there with Joyner on her own accord.

Joyner resigned two days later. Three days after that, the teen's parents contacted the Hernando Sheriff's Office, telling investigators they found "love letters" that Joyner had written to their daughter and that the two had admitted they were in a relationship.

The criminal investigation was closed after detectives were unable to find evidence that a sexual relationship began before the student turned 18. She graduated that June. Public records indicated that Joyner and the teen later moved to Tallahassee and were living in the same apartment. It's unclear if they still live together.

The St. Petersburg Times has not identified the teen because the allegations against Joyner involved activities that would have taken place when she was a minor.

The Joyners' divorce was finalized last March, county records show.

Times news researcher Carolyn Edds contributed. Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or tmarrero@sptimes.com.

Former Nature Coast Technical High School coach loses state teaching certificate over affair with student 06/29/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 8:24pm]
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