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Pinellas suspends former principal who mishandled threat

James Joyer will serve a five-day suspension without pay.
James Joyer will serve a five-day suspension without pay.
Published Oct. 20, 2015

James Joyer, the former Tarpon Springs High principal who halted efforts last month to follow up on a death threat at the school, will serve a five-day suspension without pay for not following threat assessment procedures.

The action follows an investigation by the Pinellas school district's Office of Professional Standards, which found that Joyer "failed to assess the threat properly and did not follow district safety guidelines."

The OPS said those guidelines called for a "lock out," which allows for normal activities within the school, but locks the exterior doors until the threat can be assessed by law enforcement.

The threat came Sept. 4 when a man called Tarpon Springs High saying he wanted to kill Joyer. A school secretary, Shelby Noble, told district investigators that the man mentioned a dating website and a wife or girlfriend.

Joyer told investigators he had never met the man, who was later identified, or heard his name before. He also said he did not know the name of the woman mentioned by the caller.

According to the OPS report, Noble said Joyer asked her and one of the school's resource officers to "use discretion" so as not to alarm students or staff. Joyer did not notify his assistant principals.

"We're not going to scare the kids," Joyer was quoted as saying after the threat. "Let's use some discretion."

Joyer has since transferred to Azalea Middle School, where he is an assistant principal. His salary has dropped to $74,137 from $91,213.

His suspension dates have not been finalized and don't have to be served sequentially. Joyer declined comment on Monday.

Contact Colleen Wright at cwright@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8643. Twitter: @Colleen_Wright.