Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco teacher on leave after second breakdown at school

WESLEY CHAPEL — Patti Withers, the teacher who became the subject of intense debate after attempting to kill herself at a school in 2006, was taken into protective custody last week after attempting to hurt herself again, authorities said.

The latest incident also happened at a school.

Withers, 53, punched herself, threw herself to the ground and banged her head on the concrete block wall last Wednesday at Wiregrass Ranch High School, according to a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report. She also put both of her hands around her neck attempting to choke herself, the report said. Withers had taken pills but wouldn't say how many, and she told an administrator she had "nothing to live for" and she had "ruined" her life, authorities said.

She was taken to Florida Hospital in Zephyrhills under the state's Baker Act and was given a mental health evaluation and treatment, the sheriff's report said.

Since then, she has been on paid personal leave, according to Summer Romagnoli, the Pasco school district spokeswoman.

"Our primary concern is the safety of our employees and students," Romagnoli said. "We will re-evaluate her employment status when she contacts us."

Pasco Schools superintendent Heather Fiorentino wanted to fire Withers five years ago after a similar incident at Pasco High School. Battling depression and upset over failing a Spanish certification exam, Withers wrote a suicide note in May 2006 and attempted to overdose on pills in her classroom. Other teachers saw her when she came out for water and called 911.

Fiorentino argued then that Withers should be fired for committing an "immoral act" on school grounds.

But on a 4-1 vote, School Board members overruled Fiorentino in November 2006, and decided to keep Withers on the district's employee roster indefinitely on the condition that she underwent counseling. She eventually returned as a teacher at Wiregrass Ranch.

Withers kept her teaching license, although the Florida Education Practices Commission said in 2009 she should be placed on two years of probation and have a letter placed in her file.

Those records indicate that Withers has battled a range of health issues including depression, high blood pressure and the onset of Parkinson's disease.

Withers did not return a call Tuesday for comment.

Pasco teacher on leave after second breakdown at school 11/01/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 8:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

    Blogs
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]