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State digest

Assistant principal lied, panel says

By Associated Press
Published October 26, 2004

CRESTVIEW - A state panel ruled that an assistant principal falsely accused a high school student of striking him, an allegation that resulted in the student's expulsion.

Sanford Hayes resigned a day before the Florida Education Practices Commission's decision Friday to suspend his teaching certificate for a year. He declined comment Monday.

The commission found that Hayes wrongly accused Crestview High School senior class president Bobby Rosado of assaulting him at a basketball game in 2000.

A state administrative law judge viewed a videotape of the incident that surfaced after the Okaloosa County School Board expelled Rosado and ruled Hayes had been "untruthful" and "unethical." The tape shows Hayes grabbing Rosado, who was making obscene gestures at the opposing team's fans, and Rosado jerking his arm away.

Police arrested Rosado on charges of battery and disrupting a school function. A judge threw out the charges after watching the tape.

"Finally, finally something happened," said Rosado, 23. "This means a whole lot to me."

Canceled speaker appears anyway

FORT MYERS - When Florida Gulf Coast University students upset about their school's postponement of a speech by Terry Tempest Williams organized her appearance on their own, they embodied the democratic principles she writes about, the author said Sunday.

"Oppression of any kind depends on obedience," she told them. "Thank you for your very civil disobedience."

On Oct. 6, university president William Merwin decided to delay a student convocation featuring Williams after reading her book, The Open Space of Democracy , in which she says she has been "sick at heart" since President Bush took office. Merwin thought the speech - which would have been mandatory for freshmen - could be considered an attack on Bush. He also feared funding a partisan event with state money.

The decision upset students, and eight campus groups wrote to Williams. That prompted the 49-year-old author to waive her $5,000 speaking fee to come without university sponsorship. Fourteen student groups, including the campus Republican and Democratic clubs, raised funds to cover her lodging, meals and publisher's expenses.

"Thank you for not just reading Open Space of Democracy but embodying it with your life," Williams told the more than 300 people who filled the Student Union Ballroom on Sunday.

Williams urged them to ask critical questions, encourage debate, take a stand and join in the public process.

"Democracy's only agenda is that we participate," she said.

Merwin said he was pleased Williams visited. Her speech was not political, he said.

The Associated Press and the News-Press in Fort Myers contributed to this report.

[Last modified October 26, 2004, 00:39:23]

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