School board fires science teacher for corporal punishment

nalund@bradenton.comAugust 24, 2010 

BRADENTON — The Manatee County School Board on Monday fired a 59-year-old Palmetto High School teacher for improperly disciplining students on two separate occasions in 2009.

Peggy Hill, a science teacher, had been on paid leave for reportedly slapping a student across the face after the student used profanity in front of a group of his peers May 4, 2009. According to an administrative complaint, five or six students witnessed the slap, which left a red mark on the student’s face.

That same school year Hill was transferred to Braden River Middle School where Oct. 20, 2009, she pushed a student out of a chair, causing him to fall to the floor.

Hill, who’s worked in the district since October 1997, was then suspended without pay.

Superintendent Tim McGonegal recommended she be fired for the reported corporal punishment incidents. Hoping for a lesser punishment, Hill requested an administrative hearing on the matters.

During the hearing, court papers show that Hill testified that the Palmetto school incident was barely a slap, and that the Braden River Middle School student fell on his own after rocking in his chair with the back legs off the ground.

But Tallahassee Administrative Law Judge William Quattlebaum, in a May written order, found her guilty of gross misconduct and recommended the board fire Hill.

In other matters, the board:

n Recognized Chris Dixon as a Florida Studio Theatre Young Playwright Festival Winner. Chris, a Braden River Middle School student, won an award for his play, “Sandy’s Surprise” — one of only 11 plays chosen from 4,000 entries.

n Recognized 2010 State History Fair Winners Michaela Oglesby and Sam Nassab, of Nolan Middle School, who placed 10th in the nation with their “Innovations in Voting Technology” History Fair Project during the mid June fair at the University of Maryland.

Their Junior Group Exhibit project detailed the process of voting in the United Sates and the changes that have been made throughout the years. More than a half million students participate in the History Fair each year.

Natalie Neysa Alund, Herald reporter, can be reached at 745-7095.

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