Independent overview says that school officials failed to properly investigate incidents with former teacher

Independent overview says that school officials failed to properly investigate incidents with former teacher
Sarasota County School District moving ahead with investigation into teacher altercation with student

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - An independent committee appointed by Sarasota County Schools to look into multiple incidents involving a former Brookside Middle School teacher says that officials did not intervene or investigate sufficiently.

The independent overview by Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick says that there were multiple documented incidents of disproportionate reaction from former teacher John Russo to what the committee called “perceived disrespect.” Video of an incident that occurred in February of 2018, showed Russo in an altercation with a student that he claimed was not obeying.

Russo was terminated and a battery charge leveled against him was eventually dropped.

At the time of the incident, Russo told ABC7 that the student was not complying with a rule and that the fight escalated.

The report also says that between the years of 2016-2018, Brookside’s principals and the former Director of Middle Schools did not properly investigate allegations against Russo. The former Director of Middle Schools, says the committee, did not cooperate in the investigation.

“Had any of the incidents been handled by the respective principal in accordance with the collectively bargained teacher discipline protocols it is foreseeable that the incident could have been avoided or mitigated,” reads the report.

You can read the committee’s findings below.

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