Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando teacher resigns in student restraint case

BROOKSVILLE — Ann Guarnieri told school officials she was only trying to defend herself from an unruly student wielding crutches.

When the district moved to fire Guarnieri, an exceptional education teacher at Moton Elementary, for not properly restraining the boy, she decided to fight to keep her job.

Now, she has given up that fight.

Guarnieri, 56, has resigned as part of a settlement agreement reached last week. Superintendent Bryan Blavatt has withdrawn a petition for termination, and Guarnieri agrees not to file a grievance or pursue further legal action.

Blavatt called Guarnieri's decision a wise one.

"Obviously, it's time for her to move on," he said.

A school district investigation concluded that Guarnieri did not use the correct techniques to control the boy, who refused to go to the school's guidance office one day last May.

Guarnieri appealed Blavatt's recommendation to the School Board to fire her, and requested a hearing with an administrative law judge who would hear evidence and make a nonbinding recommendation to the board.

Her resignation was effective Sept. 9.

On May 13, the boy told an assistant principal that Guarnieri had held him by the shirt collar and grabbed his neck. During the investigation, a paraprofessional in the classroom on the day of the incident told school officials he saw Guarnieri push the boy from behind toward the classroom door with a hand "somewhere around the neck area and another one on the arm."

The boy, who'd recently suffered a sprained knee, refused to leave the classroom to go to counseling, Guarnieri told officials. Still photos from video recorded by a camera in the hallway show Guarnieri struggling with the student, who is holding crutches, as they make their way down the hall. In one photo, Guarnieri is holding the boy by the arm. In others, her arm appears to be around the boy's neck and shoulders.

Guarnieri said she held the boy by his arm and shirt to escort him to the school office but denied grabbing him by the collar. She said the boy started to try to bite and kick and hit her with one of his crutches. She told officials she did not use a "crisis prevention intervention" hold — crossing his arms and holding his hands behind him — because she didn't want to embarrass the boy in front of other children.

"I was trying to get him to stop without using force," Guarnieri said. "I guess what I did wasn't approved. I just wanted to protect myself."

Mark Herdman, the Clearwater attorney who represents Guarnieri, did not return a message left at his office Wednesday.

The district forwarded its findings to the Florida Department of Education, which does not confirm or deny a state investigation until officials have determined there is probable cause to warrant action against an educator's certificate. The state is not at that point, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Guarnieri has five state teaching certifications or endorsements including exceptional education for grades K-12, state records show. All are valid through June 2013.

Hired by the district in 1997 to serve as an ESE teacher at Brooksville Elementary, Guarnieri transferred to Moton last year. She received generally positive evaluations. But in 2008, she received a written reprimand after district officials concluded that her hand hit a student's face as she was trying to restrain him. She was required to take a training course, among other actions.

Her personnel file contains another reprimand letter from last September, when officials found that she put a pillow over the mouth of a crying student. Guarnieri denied the allegation but said it could have been accidental. She was required to take training courses in ethics and classroom management.

During both investigations, paraprofessionals told school officials that Guarnieri made them feel uncomfortable because of her rough handling of students.

Guarnieri is the second ESE teacher to settle with the district in the last week.

On the same day Guarnieri signed her settlement, Eastside Elementary teacher Lisa Studer signed an agreement to drop her appeal of Blavatt's termination recommendation and take a secretary position in the adult education program at Nature Coast Technical High School. The district concluded that Studer pulled on the arms and clothing of children who would not follow directions. Studer disputed the findings.

Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or

Hernando teacher resigns in student restraint case 09/15/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 6:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays DFA Danny Farquhar to make room for Brad Boxberger


    The Rays continued shuffling their bullpen, dumping RHP Danny Farquhar after Wednesday's game to make room for RHP Brad Boxberger to be activated off the DL.

    Farquhar, who worked an inning in Wednesday's 6-2 loss, had a 2-2, 4.11 record for 37 appearances, working primarily in lower leverage situations. In …

  2. USF to face Indiana in men's basketball next season


    The USF men's basketball team will get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse next season.

  3. Rays employee helps save suicidal woman near Pirates stadium


    A Rays front-office employee joined umpire John Tumpane in saving a woman threatening to jump from a bridge near PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

    Multimedia production manager Mike Weinman, 32, was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge with Rays broadcasting director Larry McCabe when he …

  4. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater


    Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    The Pirates’ David Freese scores on a Blake Snell wild pitch during the first inning against the Rays.
  5. College World Series title puts Florida Gators in elite company


    The Florida Gators put themselves in rare company with Tuesday night's College World Series national championship victory.

    Florida ace and Tampa native Alex Faedo (21) lets loose with his teammates after they win the Gators’ first baseball national title.