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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.

Two Pasco teachers face discipline over inappropriate behavior 05/09/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 8:02pm]
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