Teacher faces sheriff's inquiry

Mitchell High drops a substitute after concerns of improper conduct with a teen.

By Molly Moorehead and Jeffery S. Solochek, Times Staff Writers
Published March 6, 2008

NEW PORT RICHEY - The Sheriff's Office is investigating a relationship between a female substitute teacher and a male student at Mitchell High School.

The school district, which is not conducting its own investigation, notified the teacher in a letter Friday that she will no longer be used as a substitute because of concerns about her professional behavior, said assistant superintendent Renalia DuBose.

Neither school district nor sheriff's officials would release the name of the teacher. The two agencies were loath to release any details, citing the integrity of the investigation and concerns for the student, who is younger than 18 and may be a victim.

Sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin said he would release more information "once it's been resolved either way."

The school's principal told the staff Friday that there was an investigation but did not reveal the nature of it.

The Tampa Bay area has seen its share of high-profile cases of inappropriate teacher-student relationships. Debra Lafave, who taught at Tampa's Greco Middle School, agreed to a plea deal in 2006 that gave her house arrest followed by probation for having sex with a 14-year-old boy. In Pasco County, Michael Aaron Black is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in January to three counts of lewd and lascivious battery for having sex with a 14-year-old female student at Pasco Middle School, where he was the band director.

State lawmakers are reacting to the trend. The Legislature is taking up a bill this week that would create harsher penalties for teachers who are found guilty of misconduct with students.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or 727 869-6245.