BROOKSVILLE — A former teacher at Eastside Elementary has been sanctioned by the state for improperly handling students who weren't following directions.
Lisa Studer, 46, received a letter of reprimand, a $500 fine and two years' probation from the Education Practices Commission, which met Sept. 23 in Tampa.
Studer also must attend a class in early childhood development.
During a school district investigation last year, several teachers and staffers told school officials that Studer, who co-taught inclusion classes for exceptional students, pulled on the arms and clothing of children, pulled on the shirt collar of a student who put his head down on his desk, and dragged one student across the room by his arm. One teacher said she saw Studer squeeze a child's face and yell at him to look at her.
Studer denied the allegations. The Hernando County Sheriff's Office found the actions were not criminal abuse, and a Department of Children and Families could not substantiate that child abuse occurred.
Studer fought superintendent Bryan Blavatt's move to fire her and then later agreed to move to a secretary position for the adult education program at Nature Coast Technical High School. She was not reappointed to the post and left the district at the end of last school year.
The commission also took action against another Hernando teacher.
Tina Mertz, 40, a teacher at Deltona Elementary, received a letter of reprimand, a $500 fine and a year of probation for promoting three first-grade students who earned failing grades in her class in 2009
Mertz didn't give officials an explanation for why the students were not referred for student support services or why they were not retained, according to a conference report by Betty Harper, Deltona's principal at the time. She otherwise has a clean disciplinary record and positive evaluations.
Then-education commissioner Eric Smith reviewed the case and concluded that Mertz had violated professional conduct principles.
"As a result of (Mertz's) inaction, the students did not receive remedial services until their deficiencies were later observed by other teachers," Smith wrote.