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Principal at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle resigns amid school district investigation

LARGO — After a year at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School, principal Anthony Francois resigned last week while under investigation by Pinellas County school district.

District spokesperson Lisa Wolf declined to comment Friday on the reason for the investigation, citing a Florida statute that exempts investigative material on employees from public record until 10 days after an inquiry by the Office of Professional Standards has closed.

The district's investigation ended Aug. 30, Wolf said, when Francois submitted a resignation letter listing his reason for leaving as "personal." His last day was Tuesday.

Reached by phone Friday, Francois, 49, of Clearwater, declined to comment for this story.

According to his personnel file, Francois started work in Pinellas schools in August 2010, after leaving a teaching job in Polk County.

He was a teacher at Gulfport's Boca Ciega High School through the 2011-12 school year, during which he also worked as a behavior specialist, records show.

In August 2012, Francois became assistant principal of East Lake High School. He moved into the same position at St. Petersburg's Azalea Middle School in October of the next year, after working for about three months as an interim administrator at Northeast High School.

Francois returned to East Lake as an assistant principal in July 2014, records show, then left a year later to serve as an assistant principal at John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg through June 2017.

He took the principal job at Morgan Fitzgerald in July 2017.

Francois has no criminal record in Florida, according to Department of Law Enforcement records. However, in his application to the district, he listed a 1990s conviction in Oklahoma for attempted embezzlement, stating he was pardoned by the governor.

Wolf said the district has posted Francois' job and the human resources department is in the process of screening applicants. In the meantime, Valencia Walker, assistant director of human resources, will fill in as principal at Morgan Fitzgerald.

Contact Megan Reeves at Follow @mareevs.