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No charges for Gibbs High teacher over iffy behavior

Darren M. Snieszko’s friendships  weren’t sexual.

Darren M. Snieszko’s friendships weren’t sexual.

Prosecutors will not pursue criminal charges against a Gibbs High School science teacher who resigned for having inappropriate relationships with students.

Darren M. Snieszko, 25, was arrested in April after St. Petersburg police said he took a 16-year-old girl to Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. Though the girl's mother thought the visit was a field trip, police said it was more like a date.

Snieszko was arrested on a charge of interfering with child custody and suspended from his job. Police said then he might have had similar relationships with a half-dozen other girls.

School officials began an investigation that found Snieszko didn't have any sexual contact with the girls, but that he became too close to them by taking them to the movies, the zoo and Busch Gardens without informing their parents, said Valerie Brimm, a district administrator.

Brimm said one student said she and Snieszko kissed, though Snieszko told investigators that the student initiated it.

The school district was going to recommend that Snieszko be fired, but gave him the option of resigning. He quit July 1.

"He was very remorseful in saying that in hindsight he made some terrible decisions," Brimm said.

If Snieszko were to apply for a job in another district, school officials there would learn of the investigation if they did a background check that included contacting Pinellas schools or the state's Office of Professional Practices, Brimm said.

The police investigation began April 11 when a girl reported to school officials that something was going on between the teacher and some students. That same day, the girl he took to the zoo and her mother called police to file a criminal complaint.

The girl told police that they had engaged in some "romantic touching" but nothing sexual. She also said he sent her romantic messages through MySpace.com, cell phones and instant messaging.

Prosecutors will not pursue the criminal charge because the girl's mother wanted to put the incident behind them, said prosecutor Beverly Andringa.

Snieszko was hired by the district in July 2005. He had no prior complaints.

No charges for Gibbs High teacher over iffy behavior 07/25/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 25, 2008 10:32pm]
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