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Teacher suspended for admonishing girl

(ran PW edition of PT)

A Powell Middle School teacher accused of belittling a student in front of her classmates in January has been suspended for three days without pay.

The School Board unanimously suspended William Brooks, 49, because the board found he violated the state's code of ethics by using "extremely poor judgment and inappropriate behavior" in admonishing the student.

The physical education teacher can request a hearing to appeal the School Board's ruling, board attorney Karen Gaffney said. Brooks' case can be heard by the School Board or by an administrative hearing officer designated by the state Division of Administrative Hearings.

If Brooks does not request a hearing, the charges will remain and he will lose three days' pay, Gaffney said. But if Brooks requests a hearing and it is decided that the charges are unfounded, his pay will not be docked and his personnel file will not contain a record of the incident.

Brooks could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

According to district records, Brooks called a girl to the front of the class Jan. 27, then made comments about the seventh-grader that "embarrassed and humiliated" her. School records do not indicate what was said or why.

Brooks was suspended with pay for three days last month. He was given temporary duty away from students while school officials investigated the incident, said Roger Landers, who oversees personnel matters for the district.

In a Feb. 18 letter to Superintendent Harold Winkler, Powell Principal Cy Wingrove said Brooks admitted to bringing the girl in front of the class, but Carl Harner, executive director of the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association, said there were substantial differences between what the board heard about the case and what happened.

Because Brooks, who was not at the meeting, has not had a formal hearing, Harner declined to say what happened.