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Plant City High teacher resigned after accusations she gave student a contraceptive

PLANT CITY — A Plant City High School English teacher and cheerleading coach resigned this fall after buying a "morning-after" contraceptive for a student and having inappropriate Facebook discussions with the girl's boyfriend, officials said.

Faced with being fired, Ginger Parks, 41, of Plant City resigned Sept. 22.

The male student, an upperclassman, asked Parks for the pill because he and his girlfriend had sex after the homecoming dance in 2009, according to the school district's investigation.

Investigative records give this account of the events that followed:

Although she denied it at first, Parks said she bought the contraceptive at a Walgreens in Plant City and met the boy at a gas station to hand over the two-pill package. He then gave it to his girlfriend, who took the first pill in the school's parking lot.

Parks also acknowledged exchanging suggestive messages with the boy. Her admission came after she was confronted with 41 pages of Facebook messages going back to April 2008. The boy's parents provided school officials with the messages, some sent after midnight and some salted with four-letter words.

"A teenaged boy's sex drive doesn't even come close … to mine," Parks wrote to the boy in June 2008.

After he responded that he doubted that, they started talking about how they might prove it.

"We aren't EVEN going to go there," she wrote. "We'll keep it in fantasyland … where it belongs."

The series of messages from that summer indicate that the two did not see each other. But Parks did acknowledge to investigators that she tried to arrange a meeting with the boy at Alderman Ford Park, changed a grade for him and looked up his class schedule before it was official.

Asked about her relationship with the boy, Parks described it as a mentorship that grew out of being his English teacher in ninth and 10th grade.

"I don't know," she told investigators. "You just have about four or five kids that you tend to click with and … he was one of them. He was funny."

In June 2009, Parks wrote in the boy's yearbook that "it has been two years and it feels like I've known you my whole life."

"You have become a friend," she said. "I know, crazy, huh? Life does funny things, many of which we never see coming. I didn't see you coming, but for what it's worth, I'm glad it happened that way. Surprises are a good thing, esp. if they are life-changing."

The relationship between teacher and student came to the attention of officials after Sept. 6.

That's when Parks confronted the girl for whom she had bought the pill at a Zaxby's restaurant. The girl, who since had broken up with the boy, said Parks profanely demanded to know why the girl was spreading rumors about Parks and her ex-boyfriend.

A Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy looked into the complaints against Parks but turned the matter over to the school district after consulting with the State Attorney's Office and concluding there was not evidence for a charge.

Parks had been a Hillsborough County school teacher for 16 1/2 years and was paid $48,667 annually at the time of her resignation. She could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

A 1987 graduate of Plant City High School, Parks received her bachelor's degree in English education and a master's in educational leadership from the University of South Florida.

Her personnel file includes no record of previous discipline, district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said. While at Newsome High School in 2004, she received an outstanding rating. Before that, she consistently received satisfactory and good reviews. Her most recent reviews are not in the school district's central personnel file.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Richard Danielson can be reached at danielson@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3403.

Plant City High teacher resigned after accusations she gave student a contraceptive 11/12/10 [Last modified: Friday, November 12, 2010 11:35pm]
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