Statement from Superintendent Rick Mills

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The following is a statement from Superintendent Rick Mills regarding charges filed against school district employees:

“I was informed yesterday by the State Attorney’s Office that charges have been filed against four employees of the Manatee County School District in connection with the the Rod Frazier case at Manatee High School. Those employees are Assistant Superintendent Bob Gagnon, Prine Elementary Assistant Principal Debra Horne, Palmetto High Assistant Principal Gregg Faller and Southeast High Assistant Principal Matt Kane. As you know, Mr. Frazier was charged last month with misdemeanors involving district students and staff and resigned from his position as a parent liaison on July 26, 2013.

Any charge involving an employee of the school district is a cause for great concern. When the charges include failure to report suspected abuse or giving false information to law enforcement, they are especially troubling and go directly to the primary responsibility of this school district – ensuring the safety and security of students and employees.

The school district’s internal investigation of this case will continue and is being conducted by Troy Pumphrey, Investigator in the school district’s Office of Professional Standards. Each of the employees charged yesterday have been placed on paid administrative leave in accordance with school district procedures which are outlined in an attachment given to you this morning. The standards of professional conduct set for employees of the Manatee County School District are higher than the standards set by criminal law and all of the district’s employees are accountable to those standards. It should also be noted that our internal investigation is entirely independent of the criminal charges and the outcome of the district investigation is not dependent on the final outcome of the criminal matter.

If the Manatee District’s investigation warrants discipline of any of these employees, I will make an appropriate recommendation to the School Board of Manatee County, and if warranted, the employee or employees will be suspended without pay pending a hearing, if one is requested.

As in the case of Mr. Frazier, the district clearly acknowledges that all of these employees are innocent until proven guilty and we ask the public to join us in allowing the judicial process to proceed and to reserve judgment until all of the facts have been established and evaluated.

As always, the safety, security and wellbeing of all of our students and employees is ultimately of paramount interest to me and to this school district.”