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. St. Pete-Clearwater holding food, supply drive for hurricane refugees

    Airlines

    CLEARWATER — St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are holding a food and supply drive for the Hispanic Outreach Center in Pinellas County. The event, which will benefit refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria, will be held Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the airport at 14700 Terminal Blvd.

    St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are hosting a food and supplies drive Tuesday for refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria. | [Times file photo]
  2. A buzz-worthy look at the Astros-Dodgers World Series matchup

    The Heater

    Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel is congratulated by Jose Altuve after scoring during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) TXMG170
  3. Florida, FSU try to ignore death threats, angry fans

    College

    GAINESVILLE — Frustration over uncharacteristically down seasons at Florida and Florida State has started to spill over from message boards and start crossing real-world lines.

    Fans watch the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. At the half, Florida was up 10 to 3.
  4. Tallest building in Pinellas County in search of a new name

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — The name "Priatek" is gone from Pinellas County's tallest building, perhaps to be replaced by that of a much better-known company new to the Tampa Bay area.

    The Priatek name is off of downtown St. Petersburg's tallest building.
 [LARA CERRI  |   Times.  2015]
  5. Video: The scene in Seminole Heights at the sites of three killings

    News

    Tampa police have blanketed the Southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood during their investigation of three shooting deaths over 11 days that they believe to be related.

    Balloons and candles seen along 15th Street where Anthony Naiboa, 20, was found dead on Oct. 19, photographed in Southeast Seminole Heights in Tampa on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. Three shooting deaths in the area in the last two weeks are considered by police to be related.