MANATEE -- Bayshore High School principal David Underhill was involved in an altercation at a nightclub that has led to misdemeanor battery charges being filed against him.
Underhill, who also now faces a school district internal investigation, is currently on a 90-day probation in a pre-trial intervention program, according to court records.
"The incident is embarrassing to me and I regret it," Underhill said in a statement Tuesday. "I entered into the pre-trial intervention just as I expect my students to accept responsibility for poor decisions and their actions. I am accepting mine."
The incident occurred at Banana Factory at 6916 14th St. W., Bradenton at 12:25 a.m. June 17, according to a Manatee County Sheriff's Office probable cause affidavit.
According to the affidavit, the victim was taking video of his nephew and nephew's girlfriend dancing on the dance floor at Banana Factory when the victim said Underhill "grabbed him by the throat" and stated, "Don't video me or I will kill you."
The security guard at the bar later told law enforcement officials that the victim was pinned up in his throat area by Underhill and that he broke it up, the report states.
The report states that Underhill later told deputies that the victim was taking video of him and it got to the point where Underhill's wife went over to the victim and asked him to stop, the report states.
When the victim didn't stop, Underhill said he got upset, went up to him and grabbed him by the throat, the report states.
On July 31, charges were filed and Underhill entered into the pre-trial intervention agreement, according to court records.
Manatee County Superintendent Tim McGonegal said Tuesday that the first time he heard about the incident was on July 5, in a phone call from Underhill.
"David Underhill called me on July 5 after an investigator had come to interview him, and that's when he knew he needed to report to the district," McGonegal said.
The pre-trial intervention agreement will allow Underhill to resolve the legal aspects of the case, McGonegal said.
"My understanding is that Mr. Underhill was not arrested," McGonegal said. "We have opened our own investigation through our office of professional standards, so I can't comment on the facts of the case. But I can say that Mr. Underhill is in a pre-trial intervention program. He was at work Tuesday. This is a misdemeanor. This is a 90-day probation so he can clean up loose ends."
Asked if he had confidence that Underhill could still create a safe and secure learning environment at Bayshore High, McGonegal said, "Absolutely."
"A lot of it depends on an employee's demeanor, if they were arrogant or showed no remorse," McGonegal said. "In this case, Mr. Underhill knew he had made a mistake. That says a lot to me. He told me he knew what he was doing was wrong and backed off. We will conduct our own investigation and discipline could result. But I would rather not get into that."
Asked what message he would relay to parents of Bayshore High students, McGonegal said:
"My message to them is that this did not happen at school," McGonegal said. "This was not a school-sponsored event. It was in his private time. I feel you've got to judge the man if he can provide a safe and secure learning environment and I absolutely believe he can."
Underhill should not be fired, said school board member Harry Kinnan.
"Underhill has been a wonderful principal and should continue," Kinnan said. "I do think we adults are all trying to be role models for children and this smacks in the face of that, but what is appropriate is for Mr. McGonegal to mete out discipline in the matter."
School board member Julie Aranibar said the school district should follow its policy.
"I responded to the superintendent as to my concerns for what, exactly, our policy is regarding a staffer who is on probation," Aranibar said.
McGonegal on Tuesday said he didn't think the district had a specific policy on staff who are not arrested but are on probation for a misdemeanor.
Underhill released a statement Tuesday.
"I was involved in an incident, where, in my opinion, someone was invading by wife's and my privacy by videotaping us in a restaurant/bar," Underhill wrote. "Two other people who were sitting with us asked the person to stop videoing. He did not. My wife walked over to him and asked him to stop. Again, he did not and acted in a rude manner toward her. I walked over and asked him to stop and he was rude toward me. I did touch him. I did not hit or push him or threaten him. I then self-corrected and walked away.
"I have taken full responsibility for my reaction to his rude behavior towards me and my wife," Underhill said. "I have fully cooperated with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and the school district. I have not been arrested."