Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando aide suspended for slapping student's hand

BROOKSVILLE — Moton Elementary School paraprofessional Charles Giarratana said he was trying to protect a wheelchair-bound student from being pushed out of his chair.

The problem, he admits, was with how he did it.

As a result, Giarratana was suspended for two days and voluntarily agreed to transfer to Central High School as an special needs paraprofessional. He began Monday.

"As you have been successful in the past working with students of an older age, this assignment may be more suited to your strengths," superintendent Bryan Blavatt wrote in a letter, concluding the district's investigation.

On the way back from breakfast on Oct. 16, Giarratana, in his first year with Moton, was pushing a wheelchair-bound student's chair while holding another special needs student's hand.

The autistic student pushed the wheelchair to the side, causing the wheels to lift off the ground, Giarratana wrote in a statement. Acting instinctively, Giarratana said he smacked the student's hand, making a sound.

There was no visible discoloration on either hand, wrote principal Mark Griffith in a letter.

"We understand that your position is that you were acting in response to a safety concern for another child, but regardless of the circumstances, such inappropriate actions on your part do not reflect positively on your position," Blavatt wrote.

While Giarratana admitted he smacked the student's hand and that it was inappropriate, he never reported the incident to the administration.

It was first reported by a teacher who witnessed the incident.

Following the slap, Giarratana was immediately pulled from student contact.

He wrote that nothing in his work with high school students had prepared him how to alert a nonverbal student to the inappropriateness of tipping over a wheelchair-bound peer.

"I see the boundary never again to be crossed," Giarratana wrote.

He's been with the district since 1999 in a series of special needs positions, and he also worked as a teacher at Nature Coast Technical High School for a year and a half.

Before that, he was a minister for 11 years and a social worker for two, working with developmentally and emotionally disabled adults.

Danny Valentine can be reached at or (352) 848-1432. Tweet him @HernandoTimes.

Hernando aide suspended for slapping student's hand 11/30/12 [Last modified: Friday, November 30, 2012 7:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays morning after: Why Alex Cobb was out of the game and Alex Colome was in


    Alex Cobb obviously did a really good job pitching the first eight innings for the Rays on Tuesday.

    So why didn't manager Kevin Cash let him pitch the ninth?

    Because he had Alex Colome available to do so.

    Cobb had thrown only 98 pitches, so workload and fatigue were not factors.

  2. Police commander among 6 charged in deadly 1989 UK soccer deaths


    LONDON — British prosecutors charged six people Wednesday in the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster where 96 soccer fans were crushed to death.

    Police, stewards and supporters tend and care for wounded supporters on the pitch at Hillsborough Stadium, in Sheffield, England, on April 15, 1989. British prosecutors on Wednesday June 28, 2017, are set to announce whether they plan to lay charges in the deaths of 96 people in the Hillsborough stadium crush _ one of Britain's worst-ever sporting disasters. [Associated Press]
  3. Supreme Court term ended much different than it began


    BC-US—Supreme Court, 1st Ld-Writethru,899

    AP Photo WX109

    People visit the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, June 26, 2017, as justices issued their final rulings for the term, in Washington.  The Supreme Court began its term nine months ago with Merrick Garland nominated to the bench, Hillary Clinton favored to be the next president, and the court poised to be controlled by Democratic appointees for the first time in 50 years.  Things looked very different when the justices wrapped up their work this week. [Associated Press]
  4. SPC's Bill Law leaves with pride for the faculty, concern for students — and a story about hotdogs


    ST. PETERSBURG — The local community college had already made a name for itself when William Law Jr. first arrived on campus in the early 1980s as a vice president. Still, the school, then named St. Petersburg Junior College, was just a shadow of the sprawling state college it would later become.

    Bill Law, outgoing St. Petersburg College president, said he is proud of the college cultivating stronger relationships with the community.
  5. Forecast: Pattern of hot, humid air and inland, late-day showers continues across bay area


    Storms again will pop up midday around Tampa Bay, but are forecast to mostly stick inland.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day. [WTSP]