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  1. Education

School Board fires teaching aide who gave a special needs student a wedgie

The entrance to Mount Vernon Elementary, 4629 13th Ave. N in St. Petersburg, as seen in video by Pinellas County Schools. A teaching aide at the school is accused of giving a wedgie to a special needs student in September and violating other school district policies. The School Board will decide Tuesday whether to dismiss her. [Pinellas County Schools]
The entrance to Mount Vernon Elementary, 4629 13th Ave. N in St. Petersburg, as seen in video by Pinellas County Schools. A teaching aide at the school is accused of giving a wedgie to a special needs student in September and violating other school district policies. The School Board will decide Tuesday whether to dismiss her. [Pinellas County Schools]
Published Oct. 23, 2018

The Pinellas County School Board fired a teacher's aide Tuesday night for giving a special needs student at Mount Vernon Elementary School a wedgie in front of his classmates, then refusing to work.

According to the school district, Dominique Diamond Armstrong grabbed the student by his underwear on Sept. 12. A little more than a week later, she told an assistant principal "I am not doing anything today."

Disciplinary records show this is the fourth time Armstrong, 25, has been accused of excessive force since being hired as an exceptional student education associate in March 2017.

A district investigation into the first instance, which came less than a month after she was hired, yielded no results, district record show. However, in March of this year, Armstrong was reprimanded for inappropriately grabbing a student by the shirt, district spokesperson Lisa Wolf said. She received a written notice that her behavior was inappropriate and underwent training.

Armstrong forcibly removed a student from a school bus on Sept. 5, records show. She was reprimanded in a letter, which she signed more than a week after it was received, Wolf said.

According to superintendent Mike Grego's recommendation to the board for Armstrong's termination, the Sept. 12 incident involved her pulling the boy's underwear up and stating to the rest of the class, "Look, (student's name) has a wedgie."

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The student became upset, left the room and overturned a table in the courtyard of the St. Petersburg school, records show.

The School Board voted unanimously and without discussion Tuesday to fire Armstrong immediately after the district rejected her resignation on Monday afternoon.

Armstrong denied that the incident took place in a meeting with the district's Office of Professional Standards, according to records. She could not be reached for comment.

Records show Armstrong refused to work on Sept. 21, when an assistant principal saw her sitting alone in the back of a classroom, drawing pictures and using her cell phone.

When the administrator asked her to perform regular duties, Armstrong "intentionally ignored the directives given to her," Grego's recommendation states.

He said Armstrong violated six of the School Board's policies: Failure to perform duties of the position; inappropriate or disparaging remarks to or about students, or exposing a student to unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement; failure to correct performance deficiencies; insubordination; misconduct; and failure to comply with board policy.

Contact Megan Reeves at mreeves@tampabay.com. Follow @mareevs.

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