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Did teacher steal the $75?
Accused of taking cash from a student's wallet, a Hernando High teacher is fighting to keep his job.
By TOM MARSHALL, Times Staff Writer
Published October 12, 2007
Shawn C. Bingham, 37, served as an assistant football coach prior to his Sept. 21 suspension with pay.
BROOKSVILLE - The surveillance camera captured it all: A teacher picked up a student's wallet left in the gym, walked out of view and then put it back on the bleachers where he found it.
What the camera couldn't see was the contents of the wallet. A student says $75 was removed. The teacher said it was empty.
Now that physical education teacher, 37-year-old Shawn C. Bingham of Hernando High School, is fighting to keep his job.
On Tuesday, the Hernando County School Board will be asked to suspend him without pay and forward his case to a state panel. Superintendent Wayne Alexander has recommended that Bingham be fired.
In a written statement, Bingham swore he was just trying to do the right thing on the morning of Sept. 17 when he picked up the wallet after a class, checked it and then put it back where he found it.
"As I was walking across the gym floor, I looked to see who the wallet belonged to and if it was one of my students', " wrote Bingham, who also served as an assistant football coach prior to his Sept. 21 suspension with pay.
"I noticed the wallet was empty with no contents. I proceeded to collect the rest of the basketballs and gather my belongings for my next class, and as I came back across the gym I set the wallet down where I found it on the gym bench."
A short time later, the 16-year-old student said he approached the teacher and said someone had stolen his money. Bingham told him to see the school's resource officer, offering no additional help.
According to his mother, the $75 was part of a birthday gift. All but $25 was to be paid toward an overdue library book fee, she said.
Alexander said the district's investigation showed it was "not a possibility" that the wallet had been empty when Bingham picked it up.
Documents show the School Board was subpoenaed Sept. 24 by the State's Attorney's Office for a copy of the surveillance tape. But the Hernando County Sheriff's Office said no charges have been filed in the case.