Stories about teachers who allegedly do terrible things to students seem to be entirely too common across the country these days.
In some ways, it’s not fair to pick on Florida. In other ways, it’s totally fair because tales of teachers behaving badly seem to come from the state continuously.
Take this week, for example. No less than three Sunshine State educators are in the news for allegedly mistreating kids — and it’s only Tuesday.
Consider the case of Broward County teacher Raymond Wantroba. The Lyons Creek Middle School physical education teacher has been charged with putting a pair of lacy, purple panties inside a student’s locker, according to the Sun Sentinel. Wantroba also snapped a photo of his handiwork on his cellphone.
The complaint states that the unnamed student suffered ridicule when he later opened the locker in front of other students.
This incident isn’t the first time that Wantroba, 55, has faced criticism. Last year, he garnered a three-day suspension after he wouldn’t let a student use the bathroom and the student ended up defecating in his pants.
Another Broward County instructor, Randy Corinthian — who teaches piano — allegedly placed a boy in a headlock and ushered him out of his classroom, The Parkway Middle School student on the receiving end of the headlock has alleged that Corinthian touched him in an aggressive manner some 20 times.
Corinthian, 35, has another headlock on his record and a history of giving “noogies,” flicking ears and otherwise using physical force against students, reports the Sun Sentinel.
Corinthian’s attorney, Mark Wilensky, describes his client as a peaceful person.
“Anybody can accuse anybody of anything,” Wilensky told the Sun Sentinel. “We’re just waiting for our opportunity to show these accusations are false.”
Wilensky also noted that Corinthian is ill-suited for the job he has been assigned.
“He was teaching piano to students when he is not a piano teacher and in fact is not a piano player.”
Robert Runcie, Broward County Public Schools superintendent, has endorsed the dismissal of both Wantroba and Corinthian. Both have been placed on paid leave.
Florida’s third allegedly abusive teacher in the news is kindergarten teacher Beverly Howard, who was fired last week because investigators said she had a history of hitting students with books.
Howard had taught at Sheffield Elementary School since 2006 after joining the Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville in 1977.
The Florida Times-Union reports that a parent tipped off assistant principal Lindsey Connor that Howard had been thumping kids on a regular basis. When Connor questioned the kindergarteners in Howard’s class, they said the same thing.
“She hits me with the book,” one of the students told Connor, according to The Times-Union. “She grabs my arm and hits me on the leg.”
When the assistant principal talked with Howard about the allegations, Howard was allegedly defiant.
“I am not going to write a statement because I have never hit a student. I am not hitting [student’s name]. Why would I do that in front of others? I can do what I need to do. I can contact my attorney. They don’t scare me!”
Like the Broward County teachers, Howard also had a fat personnel file that included a 2003 allegation that she seized a student’s arm, choked him and made him throw up.
These latest incidents join a string of recent headlines about Florida teachers behaving badly.
For example, Anna Garrett, a middle school teacher at Burns Middle School in Brandon allegedly used sandpaper to punish sixth graders who misspelled words during a spelling lesson. (RELATED: Ouch! Teacher accused of making sixth-graders write on sandpaper until their fingers bled)
Dean Liptak, a physics teacher at Fivay High School in central Florida got in hot water for assigning provocative test questions, including this gem: “A northbound car with a velocity of 100 m/s ran over a baby with a momentum of 800 kg m/s, what is the mass of the car?” (RELATED: Science teacher under fire for ‘violent’ math problem)
Also, a middle school science teacher, a translator, a high school teacher and a school janitor were among some 50 people arrested during an online child-sex sting in Seminole County. The suspects were arrested during “Operation Cardea,” in which police officers posed as underage kids in online chat rooms. (RELATED: Florida teachers arrested in child-sex sting)