Monday, January 22, 2018
Education

Two Pasco teachers face discipline over inappropriate behavior

LAND O'LAKES — Two Pasco County educators face unpaid suspensions over inappropriate behavior with their students.

Jamie Dabrowski, a fourth-grade teacher at Mary Giella Elementary, is accused of repeatedly allowing students to give her massages after being instructed not to let that occur.

Charles Ellison, a special education behavior specialist at Fivay High School, is being reprimanded for making inappropriate comments to students and other staff members.

Both go before the School Board on Tuesday for formal action.

Superintendent Heather Fiorentino is recommending that Dabrowski, 33, a Pasco County teacher since 2004, be suspended for five days without pay for letting her students massage her back, neck, shoulders and temples. This occurred in March, despite being told by principal George Papaemanuel to stop allowing students to massage her after a parent complaint in October.

The same parent called in March to report that her child told her, "The bad thing is happening again."

Papaemanuel then asked other students what was going on, and learned that the massaging was taking place on an almost daily basis, Fiorentino wrote. The teacher did not ask the students to do so, she noted, but it had become a commonplace activity that most children felt comfortable doing.

Several students also told Papaemanuel that after his investigation, Dabrowski asked the children what they had told the principal.

"It appears you do not understand the proper boundaries between a teacher and a student," Fiorentino wrote, noting that Dabrowski told investigators she saw nothing inappropriate in her behavior.

She added that Dabrowski had been reprimanded two other times this school year for attendance issues and said that all these point to a lack of professionalism. Dabrowski did not return a call seeking comment.

Fiorentino is recommending a 10-day unpaid suspension for Ellison, 39, for making crude comments in front of students and teachers.

Specifically, she writes in her letter of reprimand, Ellison was using a student restroom in March when a student tried to give him a fist bump. According to the letter, Ellison left the restroom, went into a crowded classroom and said, "someone needs to teach (name of student) it's not okay to ask for a fist bump when a guy has his (penis) in his hand."

In a written statement to assistant principal Erik Hermansen soon after, Ellison wrote, "upon reflecting … I see that my casualness in communication within the classroom and with my coworkers outside of the classroom has led to this situation. My tone and language has carried an air of unprofessionalism lately that I have no excuse for."

Ellison previously was reprimanded in April 2011 for using inappropriate language and in November 2011 for taking an inappropriate picture of a student in his classroom.

Fiorentino wrote in her letter that Ellison used a student restroom against district rules. He also embarrassed students and faculty members with his comments, she wrote. "I find your judgment through all of these situations to be unbecoming of an education professional and a cause of continued embarrassment and distraction to the learning environment at Fivay High School," Fiorentino wrote. "It appears you are still struggling to act professionally and make good choices in regards to communicating with students and fellow staff members."

Ellison did not return a call seeking comment.

If approved, both suspensions will be set by the school principals.

Comments
USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

ST. PETERSBURG — Holding a piece of computer paper and a microphone, the leader of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg began a Friday afternoon forum by repeating the USF administration’s new mantra.He reassured the crowd before him that t...
Published: 01/19/18

Crews Lake thespians overcome the odds

SPRING HILL — It’s 8:30 a.m. — "homeroom" period in school speak — when kids in the Crews Lake Middle School drama club file into an empty chorus room to begin rehearsing under the direction of language arts teacher Kristen Sykora. There’s only 25 m...
Published: 01/19/18
Cuts hit top school leaders as Hillsborough sheds three six-figure salaries

Cuts hit top school leaders as Hillsborough sheds three six-figure salaries

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins on Friday announced the first in a series of belt-tightening moves that include the elimination of three six-figure positions.Jobs now held by Wynne Tye and Larry Sykes will no longer exis...
Published: 01/19/18
Tampa Bay schools warn parents about flu activity, dangers

Tampa Bay schools warn parents about flu activity, dangers

The Florida Department of Health has reported a sharp increase in flu activity in the last several weeks, prompting area schools to send out letters warning parents about the virus. At least two districts, however, say that flu activity in their scho...
Published: 01/19/18

More than 400 apply to Pasco technical high school

School choice for 2018-19 is in full swing, and district officials said they’ve been pleased with the interest they’ve seen so far.The window for applying to the district’s magnet schools closed Jan. 12, except for applications for the new Wendell Kr...
Published: 01/18/18
Read the report on the fatal FSU frat party: ‘The most intoxicated’ they had ever been

Read the report on the fatal FSU frat party: ‘The most intoxicated’ they had ever been

"On Nov. 3, 2017, the Tallahassee Police Department responded to 1012 Buena Vista Drive … in reference to a death investigation."So begins a charging document in the case of Andrew Coffey, the 20-year-old Florida State University student who was foun...
Published: 01/18/18
In St. Petersburg, skeptics sneer at plan to concentrate USF power in Tampa

In St. Petersburg, skeptics sneer at plan to concentrate USF power in Tampa

In the state capitol on Wednesday, lawmakers breezed through the bullet points of a higher education bill. They skimmed past a hot-button proposal to consolidate the University of South Florida System into a single university without a peep of pushba...
Published: 01/18/18
Lithia Springs Elementary gets kids up with standing desks

Lithia Springs Elementary gets kids up with standing desks

VALRICO — Fifth-grade math teacher Melissa Forsythe walked around her Lithia Springs Elementary School classroom on Tuesday with zeal.She stopped at each station and listened with a big smile on her face as her students told stories about their new s...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Five things to know about teacher pay negotiations in Hillsborough

Five things to know about teacher pay negotiations in Hillsborough

TAMPA — They were hoping to receive between $15 million and $17 million in scheduled pay raises. But the Hillsborough County school district says it can’t afford to give its teachers anywhere near that much, while the teachers say they deserve nothin...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18
Young Pasco teacher faces cancer with support of students

Young Pasco teacher faces cancer with support of students

NEW PORT RICHEY — At age 28, things were really shaping up for Joel Santos-Gonzalez. Fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher, he had just completed his third year at Gulf Middle School."I always liked to talk to people on an intellectual ...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18