New questions surrounding Sarasota Pumpkin Festival organizer

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Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 6:29 pm | Updated: 9:35 am, Thu Oct 31, 2013.

SARASOTA, Fla. - The fall out from the Sarasota Pumpkin Festival continues. ABC 7 has learned that Lazarus Fernandez, the organizer of the festival has an extensive criminal history but is still permitted access to Suncoast schools.

Lazarus Fernandez has been arrested over 30 times in Sarasota County and has been convicted of two felonies for battery resulting from great bodily harm.

Despite being a convicted felon, Fernandez was able to receive a level two-security clearance for Sarasota County Schools. On October 19, Fernandez and his company, Spotlight Amusements were hired by the Pine View PTO to run the Pine View Fair at Pine View School in Osprey.

According to Sarasota County School Board officials, the fair was a huge success and did not have any problems. Still, the idea a convicted felon can receive clearance to work at the school system did not sit well with parents we spoke with.

"It is not okay with me. I think if they made that decision at least people should know, should have information about this guy and what he did," said Alma Caux.

"A Battery felony definitely is not something to be around children. Any type of a felony, but especially battery," said Tami Rieg.

According to school board officials, a level two-background screening includes an FBI fingerprint check and the proprietor of Spotlight Amusements was fingerprinted and cleared to work at Pine View School.

The principal of Pine View reports the Pine View Fair was very successful and enjoyed by all participants. The school did not receive any complaints about the employees of Spotlight Amusements.

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1 comment:

  • globalgrammy posted at 5:57 pm on Thu, Oct 31, 2013.

    globalgrammy Posts: 2

    thanks for these articles -- what a disappointment for Sarasota especially at such a great city park. the free ride on the tix was only for the "bouncy house" (it didn't say that anywhere ) and that "ride" was deflating when i was there trapping very frightened kiddos. hello sarasota. this is not what we want for our children. the tix passed out at the schools is a matter for the board of ed and they need to stop giving "ads" to our children.


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