Testimony supporting Robert Gagnon fills final day of hearing

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Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 5:26 pm

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Day three of the administrative hearing looking into the actions of suspended Manatee County assistant superintendent Robert Gagnon wrapped up today, with Gagnon's attorney Richard Reinhart dominating the hearing.

Witness after witness painted a picture of Gagnon as a strong disciplinarian for both teachers and students, as well as someone who would not show favoritism to any teacher -- including Rod Frazier.

"He's probably the most competent administrator I've every met," said Linda Boone, just one of the many Manatee High School teachers who took the stand Wednesday.

"The discipline was never better at Manatee High School than under his regime,” said teacher Michelle McCarthy.

"His team took care of discipline problems, and there had been a lot," said teacher Sherry Low.

But the school board’s attorney disagreed. Before resting his case, attorney Terry Harmon called Troy Pumphrey to the stand. Pumphrey was the person responsible for the internal investigation into how Gagnon and other administrators handled the Frazier case. He said that before Gagnon was removed from his position, the assistant superintendant’s influence prevented a full investigation into the matter.

"I believed that Mr. Gagnon, Mr. Martin and Mrs. Deserta need to be cleared of both the fifth floor of the school board building (where my office was) and the school district, because I believed that they had administrative access that could impeded the process," Pumphrey testified.

Harmon also called consultant Bill Vogel, who supported the decisions to remove Gagnon from his post for failing to act in the best interest of students

"It says that incidents of not only actual abuse but also suspected abuse needed to be reported," Vogel said.

Both sides have now rested their cases, but they still have 15 days to request transcript rebuttals, then 10 days to write their final recommendations. After that, Administrative Law Judge Lynne Quimby-Pennock will have 21 days to issue her order.

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