SARASOTA (WWSB) - Police say a substitute teacher, angry over a complaint with the school she was working at, sabotaged a little girl’s birthday party by putting human fecal matter on tables and grills at a Sarasota park.
Police first learned of the incident on December 1, when a call came in around 6:30am from a witness who had seen a woman in rubber gloves and a face mask putting human fecal matter on top of seven tables and two grills at Urfer Park on Honore Avenue in Sarasota.
The tables are porous and had to be replaced at a cost of $1,400. The grills, each of which cost $650, were replaced to ensure food safety. The labor for all of this cost $150 and because the pavilion was rented for the day, the money was refunded at a cost of $110. All told, the damage cost Sarasota County $2,310.
Police started their investigation by speaking to the woman who had reserved the pavilion for a girl's birthday party, scheduled to take place the same day the incident happened.
Detectives say the woman, the principal at Phillippi Shores Elementary, told them that she had invited all of the children in her child's class to the birthday party. She also said she had an ongoing dispute with a substitute teacher, 42-year-old Heather Carpenter, over a complaint Carpenter had filed that Carpenter did not feel was being properly addressed. The principal explained that Carpenter was a substitute teacher and that Carpenter's child was in her daughter's class.
About a week later, detectives went to Carpenter's residence. Police say she admitted putting the human fecal matter on the tables and grills to disrupt the birthday party because she was displeased with how the complaint was being handled.
Carpenter was arrested and charged with third degree felony criminal mischief.
ABC7 reached out to the Sarasota County School District. The district says Carpenter was approved to work as a substitute teacher in October 2017 and that substitutes are at-will employees and not School Board approved. The district says while there is an active law enforcement investigation, Carpenter will not be able to serve as a substitute or volunteer at Sarasota schools.
The district says it’s unable to comment further because of the ongoing investigation.