As teachers and parents chatted at an open house at Explorer K-8 on Friday evening, Julia Hnatiuk left the Spring Hill school through the back door, approached the driver's side of a 2007 GMC Yukon parked behind the school and pressed a blunt object against the side as she walked the entire length of the SUV, authorities say.
Hnatiuk, a 48-year-old exceptional education paraprofessional at Pine Grove Elementary, left a scratch on the Yukon long enough to cause $1,200 in damage, according to a Hernando County Sheriff's Office report.
She also left her face on the school's surveillance video. Cameras captured her leaving, scraping the SUV and returning to the school through the same door, said Sgt. Donna Black, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office. A school resource officer recognized Hnatiuk's face, Black said.
Hnatiuk, of 8746 Mississippi Run in Glen Lakes, north of Weeki Wachee, turned herself in at the Hernando County Jail a little after 9 p.m. Friday after being contacted by the Sheriff's Office. She was charged with one count of felony criminal mischief and released.
Hnatiuk told authorities that she was at Explorer to pick up a flier and that she left the school to either put something in or take something out of her husband's car - she claimed she couldn't recall, Black said. Her husband, Glen Hnatiuk, is a physical education coach at the school.
Julia Hnatiuk told authorities that she targeted the Yukon because a similar vehicle had cut her off earlier that day, according to the report.
"She said if she did anything, it was because she was angry," Black said.
The Yukon is owned by Catherine Lovett, another physical education coach at Explorer.
Hnatiuk, reached by phone Monday, called the incident a "mistake" and "a miscommunication." She said she did not know who owned the SUV at the time.
She said the run-in with a similar SUV actually occurred a couple of days earlier on U.S. 19, not the same day. "My two kids were in the car and it was a threat to their lives," she said.
Hnatiuk said she resigned from the school district Monday, effective immediately, to pursue a master's degree. The resignation could not be confirmed with school district officials.
Hnatiuk has worked at the district as a paraprofessional since December 2006, first at West Hernando Middle until she was reassigned to Pine Grove last year. Her personnel file contains positive evaluations and no disciplinary action.
She has no criminal history in Florida, records show.
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed. Tony Marrero can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1431.