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  1. The Education Gradebook

Pasco may oust teacher with long record of insults, profanity and tasteless remarks

Published Feb. 18, 2016

NEW PORT RICHEY — Students at River Ridge High School called Michael Maynard a "very good" language arts teacher, but one prone to saying "inappropriate things."

He insulted their religion, made crass sexual remarks and belittled their academic abilities. He made negative comments about gender, race, sexuality and other topics.

His lack of a filter landed Maynard, 62, on administrative leave, which he took as the Pasco County School Board considered suspending him without pay Tuesday. In addition to multiple complaints this fall, Maynard was reprimanded in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014 for using profanity, responding unprofessionally to parents and similar actions.

"Now that he has taken a leave of absence, we are going to take a very, very hard look at his record upon his request to return, if he chooses to do so," deputy superintendent Ray Gadd said. "We are not going to tolerate this type of behavior."

SCHOOL DISTRICT'S REPORT: 'This situation is very troubling to me'

Gadd praised River Ridge principal Toni Zetzsche, who took over the post in September, for acting quickly on student complaints against their teacher. Maynard did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

He was accused of making fun of a student for being gay and acting effeminate. According to a district report, he denied the specific language students said he used.

Students also complained that Maynard made comments about a student's shorts, telling her she needed to think about "what a man might be thinking" after seeing a butterfly on the back.

"He made inappropriate comments towards me and my boyfriend about our sexual activity when I made a comment about my boyfriend being my 'ride' home," one student wrote in an incident report. "This made me extremely uncomfortable, and I felt kind of inappropriate and violated. He would make comments about how overweight people are, or dumb, genetically, and they will continue to make 'dumb and fat' children."

He was reported as having called a student "f-ing stupid," and making a racially tinged joke about an African-American student's last name. Students said he talked in class about "Good Christian Republicans."

"Maynard was in a way very degrading," another student wrote. "It was his way of trying to motivate us, when it actually did the opposite. He would let you voice your opinion but he would often disagree and say how your opinion was wrong. He spoke very strongly against religion and Republicans."

In a meeting with Zetzsche and district investigators, Maynard acknowledged some of the allegations but not all of them. He urged the district to seek input from more students. But when district officials took him up on that, it only hurt his case.

An added round of written statements revealed more negative comments.

"Many of these students reported concerns with your profanity, comments regarding Christians, and disparaging comments regarding the service industry, among other concerns," Pasco superintendent Kurt Browning wrote in a charging letter to Maynard. "These students also reported a fear of your reaction upon learning of their complaints, or parents' complaints, with your behavior."

Browning told Maynard in his letter that the situation was "very troubling."

"I am concerned because there appears to be a clear pattern of behavior resulting from your inappropriate interactions with others, particularly with respect to your temper and inability to professionally convey concerns and emotions," Browning wrote.

As a result, Browning stated it was not possible to let Mayard remain at River Ridge. He reassigned him temporarily to Wiregrass Ranch High, and said another transfer could come at the end of the year.

Maynard did not remain at Wiregrass Ranch long, instead taking a leave.

Gadd said he is stressing to principals that they must do more to get rid of teachers who act as Maynard is accused of doing.

"We can no longer tolerate anything but the best," he said.

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at jsolochek@tampabay.com or (813) 909-4614. Follow @JeffSolochek.