Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando teacher who punched student won't be charged

BROOKSVILLE — Sandra Hadsock clenched her teeth, balled up her right fist and closed her eyes. The 5-foot-5 art teacher's first punch was a wild haymaker, just glancing the towering student's right cheek.

Then, as she drew her arm back again, Hadsock gripped the boy's jacket collar and leveled a right cross, catching him square on the jaw. His head snapped to the side and his mess of orange hair blew back.

Now, three weeks after the incident was caught on a student's cell phone videocamera, the State Attorney's Office has decided not to file criminal charges against Hadsock, who had been arrested on a single count of child abuse.

Hadsock landed at least one punch on the student's face, causing a minor cut on his lip, authorities said. But the video doesn't provide conclusive evidence that the 64-year-old veteran teacher wasn't acting in self-defense when she swung at the student who called her vulgar names, prosecutor Brian Trehy said.

Students who witnessed the incident said the teen made contact first and the teacher was responding to that, Trehy said.

"You couldn't put a piece of paper between them," Trehy said. "You can't tell if he actually made contact, but it's certainly reasonable to believe that it could have happened."

In a phone interview Thursday afternoon with Hadsock and her attorney, Ty Tison, she expressed relief that the criminal chapter is over.

"It was the right thing to do," Hadsock said of Trehy's call. "I was defending myself, and he made the right decision."

Hadsock and Tison offered previously unreleased details that led up to the incident outside Central High School's classroom D102.

The student licked a classroom window and left saliva, Tison said. Hadsock and another teacher asked the boy to clean the window, and he refused. Hadsock told him to go to the principal's office.

At that, the student launched a verbal assault, calling her a "f---ing c---" as he walked across the room toward her in what Hadsock felt was a menacing manner, Tison said.

The video picks up from there.

"Step back right now!" Hadsock shouts.

But instead of stepping back, the student steps forward. Hadsock punches him twice, and another boy pulls him back.

"Oh my God!" a girl exclaims. "He didn't do anything. You can't punch him in the face."

"He pushed into me," Hadsock, visibly shaken, says.

"I didn't touch her," the student responds. "You guys saw that, right? I didn't touch her."

Tison said the video "speaks for itself."

"If she would have done nothing, you might have been talking about some very severe injuries to a 64-year-old teacher," Tison said. "She wasn't going to wait to find out."

The student was suspended but not arrested.

A married mother of two grown daughters, Hadsock started with the district as a substitute teacher in 1985 and became a full-time teacher three years later, a faculty member when Central opened in 1988. She has a clean disciplinary record and was voted by students for the school's Teacher of the Year award last school year.

She said she hopes school officials will consider the facts of her case and her record, and allow her to return to the classroom, but it's still unclear if that will happen.

She was suspended with pay after her arrest and will have a predetermination hearing this summer as the school district conducts its own investigation, said Joe Vitalo, president of the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association.

Superintendent Bryan Blavatt did not return messages Thursday.

"I've been doing this for 22 years, and it's part of who I am, a teacher who makes a positive influence in kids' lives," Hadsock said. "I'm a very optimistic person so I'm seeing a near future where I'm back making lesson plans and getting my room in order for next year and doing the job that I do so well."

In the meantime, she is not allowed to have student contact, which means she won't be able to attend Central's graduation ceremony tonight.

Hadsock's story touched a nerve with readers. Many who posted comments on cheered her for sticking up for herself. She said she has received correspondence from strangers throughout the country offering words of support.

The writers agreed that bad student behavior is an epidemic, she said, and it's causing good teachers to leave the profession.

"For a solution, I think you need well-trained teachers, but you also need good parenting and students who want to learn and who understand the need for, and are grateful for, a good education," she said. "Our values have gotten backward somewhere, and we need to reassess as a nation what's important."

Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or John Woodrow Cox can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or

In an image captured from a student’s cell phone videocamera, Central High School teacher Sandra Hadsock reacts as she is confronted by a student. Prosecutors in Hernando have decided not to charge her.

Hernando County State Attorney’s Office

In an image captured from a student’s cell phone videocamera, Central High School teacher Sandra Hadsock reacts as she is confronted by a student. Prosecutors in Hernando have decided not to charge her.

Hernando teacher who punched student won't be charged 06/02/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 3, 2011 8:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa


    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  2. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  4. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  5. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.