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Short-tempered drafting teacher faces suspension at Tampa Bay Tech

Published Dec. 5, 2014

TAMPA — Ronald Brill is a highly skilled draftsman and Navy veteran, according to a biography on the website of Tampa Bay Technical High School.

But the school's drafting teacher also has a temper, so bad that the Hillsborough County School District wants him out of the classroom.

Officials say on Sept. 16, the frustrated teacher grabbed a pencil case from a student's desk and threw it against a wall. Just one day earlier, they said, he was counseled for using profanity with another student.

"These most recent incidents are but the latest in a long-running pattern of behavior for which you have been counseled and disciplined, without apparent effect," says a letter from professional standards manager Linda Kipley.

On Tuesday, the School Board will vote on whether to suspend Brill, 60, without pay, a step toward termination.

Incidents Kipley described include some that were physical. Parents and co-workers found his behavior aggressive and demeaning. And there were similar problems in Pasco County, where Brill taught before joining the Hillsborough district in 2005.

A man answering Brill's phone Thursday declined to comment.

The Tampa Bay Times has requested, but not yet received, Brill's full investigative file.

District spokesman Stephen Hegarty said he did not know Thursday if district officials knew of the Pasco allegations when they hired him, but information may be available today.

Letters dating back to 1998 accuse Brill of leaving his job at Pasco High School early, repeatedly and without permission. They say he allowed profanity in his class, which became so bad that students next door in in-school suspension complained.

Separate complaints accuse Brill of using profanity himself and on two occasions pushing students, one for trying to take Brill's yearbook picture without permission.

In 2005, when a student at Land O'Lakes High School asked how to scroll down on the computer, Brill was accused of remarking that the student should know because he performs sex acts on other boys in the locker room.

Kipley's Hillsborough letter mentions a child abuse investigation in 2009, after Brill was accused of grabbing two students, leaving a mark on one's arm. The investigation resulted in a finding of "not substantiated" for abuse or neglect, but it did reveal inappropriate interaction with students, Kipley wrote.

In 2013, the district said he was unprofessional in emails with a parent. He was also marked down in his yearly evaluations for lacking professionalism.

Before he became a teacher, the school biography says Brill worked as a civil drafter and engineering field technician with national and regional firms.

He was described as a design consultant on a long-term commercial restoration project for historic buildings in the Midwest, with two master's degrees.

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If the board votes to suspend Brill and the district moves to terminate him, he will be entitled to a hearing.

Contact Marlene Sokol at msokol@tampabay.com.

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