A St. Petersburg High teacher has retired in the middle of the school year after students said he called them "baby," "babe," "missy," "honey," "sweetie," "little girl" and ended one girl's name with "-licious."
The Pinellas County school district found that Eugene "Skip" Walker used inappropriate nicknames when addressing students. Accusations that Walker inappropriately touched students were deemed unfounded for lack of evidence. He also was cited for giving students worksheets instead of teaching, as students called him "Worksheet Walker."
Walker, 62, spent 13 years in the Pinellas County school district teaching traditional and honors biology at St. Petersburg High. He retired Monday, the same day the investigation's files were released as public record. He did not respond to requests for comment.
According to documents, Walker denied every allegation and called the touching accusations "total fabrications." He did admit to making a student pull his finger and making a crude noise.
The district's Office of Professional Standards launched an investigation into Walker's conduct in October after a mother complained that he referred to her daughter as "baby" when she asked him if she needed to get a paper signed. The mother said Walker also acted inappropriately toward two other students the previous year.
During the investigation, Walker was reassigned to work at Walter Pownall Service Center, the district's warehouse, in a non-student contact position.
Two students gave written statements referring to incidents last school year. One said that in addition to pet names, Walker "ran his hand up my leg and backside." The other said he "pat/squeezed my upper/front thigh in a weird way and I pushed his hand away."
A third student wrote that Walker placed his open hand on another student's hip and told her, "Good job."
During the investigation, science teacher Gary Kolosey told his class that Walker "was his friend and he would never do what he was accused of." Three of Walker's accusers were in that class.
"It made me feel like no one believed me, basically he said I was lying," wrote one who said Walker touched her behind.
Investigators interviewed 25 students to ask about the nicknames and touching. Five said they witnessed touching, while 10 said Walker used pet names as nicknames. Several mentioned that Walker rarely taught and gave a lot of worksheets.
When an investigator questioned his teaching style and said it was his responsibility to teach students, Walker said, according to documents, "No, it's my job to make sure the students score high on the EOC (end of course) tests. I don't get paid for teaching biology. I get paid by test scores." He also claimed he had the highest scores and was often commended by a past principal.
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The investigation concluded that Walker had violated district policy by making "inappropriate or disparaging remarks to or about students or exposing a student to unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement." For that, he was given a reprimand and reassigned to work at John Hopkins Middle.
His salary before he retired was $47,632.
Times senior researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Colleen Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8643. Follow @Colleen_Wright.