Former Sarasota County School’s police chief could take legal action against district

Former Sarasota County School’s police chief could take legal action against district
Sarasota School District Police Chief Grohowski

SARASOTA (WWSB) - Sarasota County School’s former police chief has filed a complaint against the district.

Paul Grohowski was the district’s first police chief. He was hired to start the department from scratch after the school shooting in Parkland. Months after taking the job, Grohowski was abruptly reassigned. He claims his demotion and loss of pay were unjustified.

In a letter to the school board, superintendent and other administrators, Grohowski’s attorney, Sara Blackwell, lists five complaints and compensation demands.

Blackwell writes that Grohowski did not get paid for the first week he was employed with the district and is requesting back pay for that week’s salary. She also is demanding Grohowski is paid for 218 compensation hours that exceeded his weekly schedule. Blackwell writes that all of those hours were reviewed and formally approved by Grohowski’s supervisors.

Also, Blackwell says in the letter that Grohowski withdrew from being a finalist for the position of Chief of Police for North Port Police Department when he was offered the job for the school board. Grohowski says he was not disclosed to the fact the school board was considering outsourcing security to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office until three days after he was hired.

Grohowski feels that the perception from outside the district is that he was kicked out of the his position with the district because of a performance reason, which he says makes it difficult for him to secure a new Chief of Police position elsewhere. He is asking the district to pay his salary and health benefits through his June 2019 contract, but also permit him to look for another job elsewhere. Grohowski is requesting that superintendent Dr. Todd Bowden write a letter of reference for him.

The district confirmed Friday that it did receive the letter of complaints and compensation.

In a statement, district spokeswoman Tracey Beeker said: "Because this has officially opened a grievance process, we are unable to discuss details regarding Mr. Grohowski’s letter and request. Once this is closed, we will be able to provide a statement on behalf of the school district.

“We take all grievances seriously and will do our part to provide a fair and equitable response to Mr. Grohowski’s request for compensation.”

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