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Three Pinellas school employees face termination

It takes a lot to be fired from a school district, but a colostomy bag, a sleeping child and plain incompetence could mean the end of the road for three Pinellas school employees.

School officials are recommending a Pinellas school janitor be fired for allegedly threatening to place a used colostomy bag in a fellow employee's truck or locker and then bringing one to school.

A Pinellas bus driver might be fired after reportedly failing to notice a sleeping child on her bus until after returning to the bus compound. The driver was disciplined twice before for the same thing.

And school district officials want to fire a clerk who has been written up 11 times in the past three years and called incompetent in a ruling by an administrative judge.

In the first case, Debbie Legault, a plant operator at Frontier Elementary in Clearwater, had a minor disagreement with another employee, according to district records. On July 22, the records say, she threatened to bring a used colostomy bag and place it in the other employee's truck or locker, or throw it in his yard. On the following Monday, she brought the used bag to school and showed it to two employees.

Legault told district officials she made the threat "because she felt the other employee was always telling her what to do and he was not her supervisor." She said she never would have actually followed through with her threat.

Legault has worked for the district since 2004. She has been written up six times, including three times for "problems with colleagues." She makes $18,969 a year.

In the second case, bus driver Bernice Williams did not check her bus before leaving an elementary school on July 29 and did not notice a sleeping child until later, records say. She immediately returned the student to the school.

Williams told district officials she did not want to disrupt traffic at the school's bus circle by stopping to check the bus.

Williams has been with the district since 1994. She has been disciplined seven times. She makes $22,502 a year.

In 2005, then-superintendent Clayton Wilcox recommended that Williams be fired after she reportedly left sleeping students on a bus twice. After she asked for an administrative hearing, the School Board agreed to a settlement in which she accepted 67 days without pay and agreed to training.

Superintendent Julie Janssen is recommending both employees be fired. The school board is slated to act Tuesday.

In a third case, Janssen is recommending the School Board fire Carole Rosenthal, a clerk specialist in the human resources department.

Rosenthal was suspended for three days without pay in August after an administrative judge concluded she was incompetent. She told district investigators "it gets busy with a lot of paperwork and she doesn't check for accuracy," district records say.

Rosenthal has worked for the district since 1999. She has been written up 11 times since 2008, mostly for "uncorrected job deficiencies." She makes $25,731 a year.

Ron Matus can be reached at matus@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8873.

Three Pinellas school employees face termination 09/08/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 10:00am]
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