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Suspended teacher sues station

A Kennedy Middle School teacher suspended last fall for directing her students to a Web site promoting sexy teachers that included a photo of her has filed a lawsuit against the radio station that operates the site.

In a lawsuit against 98 Rock (WXTB-FM) and Clear Channel Broadcasting, Spanish teacher Rosemary Geier-Scalzo claims the station invaded her privacy, placed her in a false light and displayed her picture on its Web site without her consent.

But the photo, it turns out, was submitted by her husband.

In a letter written to the Pinellas County School Board, Geier-Scalzo admits that she entered a contest sponsored by the radio station that offered a $1,000 prize to the teacher that got the most votes. She says her husband sent in the photo, a head shot.

Geier-Scalzo signed an agreement for the three-day suspension on Oct. 23. The agreement said she directed the students to the Web site.

In the letter, she says she merely told students her picture was in the contest. She disputes that she encouraged them to visit the site.

Dan DiLoreto, general manager for Clear Channel, said Tuesday that he hasn't seen the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in Pinellas County Circuit Court, and would not comment. DiLoreto declined to discuss the Web site contest or entry stipulations.

The photo was part of the 98 Rock Is Hot for Teacher contest, where visitors could vote on the pictures based on attractiveness.

Geier-Scalzo's attorney, Mark Adams, said after punitive damages, the amount Geier-Scalzo will seek could top $1-million. She claims the use of the photo led to a reprimand by the Pinellas County School Board, a three-day suspension without pay, personal humiliation and mental anguish.

Adams said his client hoped to work her way into the school system's administration some day, but that her chances, because of the photo, have been diminished.

Geier-Scalzo came under fire last fall after parents told school principals that she had urged students to visit the Web site. Concern grew when students and district officials found that the site asked the question, "Did you ever have a teacher you wanted to have sex with?"

It also showed a picture of a topless woman with black squares covering her nipples, the claim says.

"If they're going to have a contest for teachers, they shouldn't feature any type of materials that would be harmful to teachers and their teachers' certificates," Adams said. "I would think a reasonable person would understand that that would place the teachers that had their picture in the contest in a bad light and endanger their jobs."

Adams said the district gave Geier-Scalzo an ultimatum that she would have to approve the suspension or be suspended indefinitely and subject to an investigation.

School Board attorney Jackie Spoto disputed that claim. She said she repeatedly asked the teacher if she approved of what the agreement stated and Geier-Scalzo didn't object.

In a letter of rebuttal to the School Board after signing the agreement, Geier-Scalzo said when her husband entered the picture in the contest, there wasn't any inappropriate content on the site.