Hillsborough teacher resigns amid child pornography charges

Police say graphic images were on the iPod he left behind at school.
David Lee Giberson, 68, of Lutz resigned Wednesday.
David Lee Giberson, 68, of Lutz resigned Wednesday.
Published November 19 2014
Updated November 20 2014

TAMPA — A Hillsborough County educator charged Wednesday with possessing child pornography was once a well-respected, nattily dressed educator who ascended the teaching ranks at Gaither High School before retiring to work as a teacher evaluator.

That image was shattered Wednesday when investigators combing through an iPod belonging to David Lee Giberson, 68, of Lutz found a trove of pornographic images of children.

Giberson, a 30-year employee of the school district, was arrested at his home on seven counts of possessing child pornography. He was released from the Hillsborough County jail after posting $14,000 bail.

"He was always highly professional, always dressed impeccably," said Matthew T. Smith, a former assistant principal at Gaither, where Giberson once headed the English department.

Smith said Giberson's arrest stands in jarring contrast to the man esteemed by his peers and known for donning a suit and tie at school.

"Everybody on the faculty got along with him very well," said Smith, now an assistant principal at Freedom High School in New Tampa, who knew Giberson professionally for about 10 years. "He was very personable and there was never an issue about a disagreement in his department."

After retiring, Giberson continued working at Gaither, but as a peer evaluator, observing teachers in classrooms at the school and around the district. He shared an office near the library with other evaluators where he could complete reports, Smith said.

He earned $22,471 last year as a part-timer and this year was on track to earn $50,000 working full time, district officials said. Giberson resigned Wednesday after his arrest.

Tanya Arja, a Hillsborough County School District spokeswoman, said Giberson lost his iPod inside an administrative building on 40th Street in Tampa. Someone found the device and turned it over to school security. In an effort to identify the owner, security personnel switched it on and found the pornographic images. They then called Tampa police.

Tampa police detectives and Hillsborough sheriff's deputies obtained a search warrant for the iPod and discovered hundreds of images of young boys, according to police.

Authorities were able to track the iPod back to Giberson's IP address. Officers searched Giberson's home Wednesday morning, and he admitted to owning the iPod. He was arrested without incident.

The children pictured on Giberson's iPod do not go to Hillsborough schools, police said.

Giberson's job as a peer evaluator required him to sit in classrooms and observe teachers, offering advice on how to improve. District officials said he specialized in coaching middle school and high school teachers, and although his job brought him into classrooms, his interactions with students were limited.

"He did not have alone time with students," district spokesman Steve Hegarty said.

A woman who picked up the phone at Giberson's house declined to comment.

Times staff writer Rich Shopes contributed to this report. Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 226-3446 or jsolomon@tampabay.com. Follow @josh_solomon15.