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Teacher's suicide note alleges improper advances by principal

LARGO — A suicide note released by Largo Police Department on Wednesday sheds further light about the state of mind of a popular Largo Middle School teacher who killed herself last week.

In a six-page handwritten note found near her body, Linda Joy Taylor blamed principal Fred Ulrich and alleged he made improper advances toward her and ruined her career at the school by investigating what she felt were frivolous complaints against her.

"My blood is on your hands," she wrote in the note addressed to Ulrich.

Ulrich confirmed that Taylor had filed a sexual harassment complaint against him. But he said the matter was investigated and he was informed a week before the holiday vacation that the allegation was deemed unfounded.

Taylor contacted the school district's Office of Professional Standards about allegations involving Ulrich, according to a written statement by Andrea Zahn, a Pinellas County schools spokeswoman, but the district administrator in charge of the investigation could not be reached Wednesday to confirm the investigation's status.

The statement further said that "drawing any connection between the substance of the investigation and Ms. Taylor's untimely death would be highly inappropriate and could be detrimental to the reputation of a well-respected district employee."

Taylor's note said Ulrich kissed and hugged her several times. Ulrich said he recalled hugging Taylor just once this fall because she was distraught that she wasn't acting like herself.

Taylor, 47, a seventh-grade language arts teacher, shot herself with a semiautomatic pistol in front of the school Dec. 22. A maintenance worker found her body slumped against a tree. In Taylor's possession, police also found the drug Clonazepam, prescribed for people with seizure or panic disorders.

Taylor's parents told the Times that Taylor suffered from depression and was upset that the school discounted discipline problems that made her fear for her safety. But Taylor's note does not address such problems.

Instead, it shows frustration that Ulrich's handling of complaints against her diminished students' respect for her.

The note alludes to specific complaints, including one that she "flipped off the class," and it criticizes Ulrich's decision to pull students from her class to investigate incidents that she felt were insignificant or untrue.

Lorri Helfand can be reached at lorri@sptimes.com or 445-4155.

Teacher's suicide note alleges improper advances by principal 12/31/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 12:33pm]
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