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Records show Tampa teacher’s troubled history

Hillsborough records show that school officials documented at least 23 allegations against Todd Harvey since he started in the late 1990s.
 
A yearbook photo of Wharton High School teacher Todd Harvey.
A yearbook photo of Wharton High School teacher Todd Harvey. [ ARIELLE BADER | Special to the Times ]
Published March 12, 2023|Updated March 14, 2023

The Tampa Bay Times published an investigation about Hillsborough County Public Schools’ handling of complaints against Wharton High social studies teacher Todd Harvey. We’ve outlined incidents included in his personnel files below.

August 1997: Harvey starts at Walker Middle School, supervising students during in-school suspension.

August 1998: Harvey starts at Riverview High School, where he again supervises in-school suspension and coaches baseball.

September 1999: Riverview Principal Vince Thompson emails Harvey about a parent complaint that Harvey played music in class. The principal says he previously told Harvey to stop. A student also complains that the class couldn’t concentrate because of the noise and that Harvey regularly humiliated students.

December 1999: A parent reports that Harvey shames students for having divorced parents. The parent also says the teacher’s style of punishment seems akin to harassment.

February 2000: The same parent reports that Harvey told other students he was angry about the complaint and “hates” the parent’s daughter.

March 2000: A father complains that Harvey called his daughter “slutty.” During a subsequent investigation, a student says Harvey told her that when she turned 21 he was going to divorce his wife and marry her.

April 2000: The investigation concludes and Harvey is reprimanded for inappropriate comments. Riverview Principal Thompson notes this isn’t the first time he’s talked to Harvey about his comments and says future remarks will result in a recommendation for termination.

April 2000: A Riverview pitcher throws a ball at a rival player’s head at a game against a Fort Myers school. The Fort Myers principal asks Coach Harvey if the pitch intentionally targeted the student. Harvey denies it.

May 2000: The Fort Myers principal writes to the Riverview principal and says a Riverview parent alleged Harvey told the pitcher to hit the rival player. It’s unclear how the complaint is resolved.

August 2000: Harvey starts as a social studies teacher at Wharton High.

September 2006: Wharton Principal George Gaffney reprimands Harvey for allowing students to pay him to boost their grades. The principal notes that he previously talked to Harvey about inappropriate comments to students.

October 2008: A parent reports to new Wharton Principal Bradley Woods that Harvey had resisted moving a test so a student could observe a Jewish holiday. Harvey, the parent says, ultimately relented but added a new component to the test on the holiday. The student missed the material and got a D on the exam, the parent says. It’s unclear how the complaint is resolved.

October 2014: Parent Kathy Brothers complains that a German exchange student she is hosting has a hard time in Harvey’s class. The student said he calls her “Germany” instead of her name and bullies her. School officials transfer the student to another class. Brothers had previously complained that Harvey performed a Nazi salute at another German exchange student.

November 2014: The district launches an investigation into the treatment of the exchange student after Brothers reports that Harvey retaliated by mocking the student to her peers. A district investigator interviews eight other students, who make a variety of allegations against Harvey: That he made fun of Latino students, called a transgender student a slur, degraded women, used inappropriate nicknames and scared students with a metal bar.

March 2015: The district’s investigation concludes and Harvey is suspended for five days without pay. The reprimand letter notes that if Harvey has inappropriate interactions with students in the future, it will result in a recommendation to fire him.

December 2016: A teacher reports to Wharton Principal Woods that a student said she scored well on an exam in Harvey’s class because it matched the review sheet he provided. Woods begins to investigate and alerts district officials.

February 2017: The district issues Harvey a written reprimand for breaking Florida testing law by providing his students with an unauthorized review sheet. His students’ scores are invalidated.