Texting does in band director

The Plant High teacher was told not to report in August. Now he will be fired.

By LETITIA STEIN, Times Staff Writer
Published November 21, 2007

TAMPA - After text messaging a student more than 525 times, the former band director at Plant High School was suspended Tuesday pending dismissal proceedings.

School officials say John Sinibaldi, a music instructor at the South Tampa school, engaged in unprofessional behavior. In a letter, they told Sinibaldi: "Your contact with the student was not desired by the parents, which caused them to question your motives, and perceived your communication with their child as inappropriate, unprofessional and overstepping your boundaries as a classroom teacher and band director."

They also say Sinibaldi allowed a middle school student to participate in the marching band program and wear a Plant High uniform. On two separate occasions, then-principal Eric Bergholm told Sinibaldi to remove the middle school student, the letter notes.

After Tuesday's School Board vote to suspend him without pay, district officials say they will move to termination proceedings.

His case has been reported to state education officials.

Plant's current band director, Rob Schoos, called the situation incredibly unfortunate.

"It's a shame that someone who worked so hard would be released from a position before the truth was found out," he said. "I phone call and e-mail my band parents and my leadership constantly just to make sure our program is running smoothly.

"It's a shame that he was trying to do his job and do it well."

Sinibaldi, 46, has taught in Hillsborough schools for eight years.

He was under investigation and told not to report to Plant when school started in August. He came to Plant in the 2004-05 school year, after teaching at Wharton High.

Sinibaldi could not be reached for comment.

The School Board also voted to terminate two employees accused of criminal acts.

It fired Stanley Telfare, a Blake High School custodian arrested on murder charges in the death of a school secretary.

Also terminated was Christy Ayala, a Dickenson Elementary secretary accused of three counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of a 15-year-old boy.

In other business, the board held its annual reorganization, naming Jennifer Faliero as its chairwoman and Carol Kurdell as the vice chairwoman.

Letitia Stein can be reached at lstein@sptimes.com or 813 226-3400. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.



School news

It's official: The school that opened this August at the Museum of Science and Industry will be called "MOSI Partnership School," the preferred name of students and faculty members.

Principal on the move: Sarah Jacobsen Capps was named principal at Lanier Elementary. She currently is site administrator for LaVoy Exceptional Center.