BROOKSVILLE — Amy DeSchweinitz told school district officials that she was only trying to help when she crossed a line and talked with members of the Weeki Wachee girls track team about sex.
But the 49-year-old teacher at Explorer K-8 and coach for the Weeki Wachee team denied the most serious allegations levied against her by students and a parent, according to a district investigation file released this week.
During a predetermination meeting last month, DeSchweinitz said she never initiated sexually explicit conversations with team members. She denied that she gave one of the girls a bottle of personal lubricant. And she said a male student's allegation that she inadvertently showed him a cell phone picture of herself topless was untrue, according to summary notes of the hearing.
District officials determined that DeSchweinitz erred by failing to refer students who came to her for help to a guidance counselor or administrator. She was removed from her coaching post, suspended without pay for 10 days, and is banned from coaching for five years.
DeSchweinitz will be paid a portion of her coaching supplement on a prorated basis. She is slated to return to her teaching position at Explorer today.
"You exercised poor judgment in your professional responsibilities when you engaged in inappropriate conversations with female students/athletes," superintendent Bryan Blavatt wrote to DeSchweinitz in a formal reprimand letter.
DeSchweinitz told officials she was caught off guard when team members started talking to her about their sex lives. She said she told them they should be talking to their mothers, but also felt compelled to be there as a confidant.
One girl said a teammate was having unprotected sex. When a team member shared about the worrisome symptoms she was having during sex, DeSchweinitz asked about sexual positions, she said, to help the girl figure out what was wrong.
"It didn't seem wrong until after the fact," DeSchweinitz said during the hearing. "Now I know. I slipped over the line."
"I made this mistake because I care about these kids," she said.
Neither DeSchweinitz nor her attorney, Mark Herdman of Clearwater, returned messages from the Times.
DeSchweinitz joined the district in 2003 and earned positive evaluations through the 2009-10 school year, the most recent available under public records law.
In April 2010, she was given a verbal warning for removing her shirt and running in her sports bra during track practice at Fox Chapel Middle School, where she taught at the time, her personnel record shows.
"Her teaching capabilities are not a problem or in question," Blavatt told the Times. "The question is her extracurricular involvement and her comments in relationship to the students. We certainly don't want her in a situation where she could make some bad decisions again."
Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or [email protected]