Manatee school district will resume investigation into allegations against Frazier

eearl@bradenton.comJuly 22, 2013 

MANATEE -- Manatee County superintendent of schools Rick Mills said Monday that the school district will resume its investigation into allegations against Manatee High football coach Rod Frazier .

Frazier was charged by the state attorney Friday with seven counts of battery and three accounts of interfering with a student's school attendance. Frazier's court date is set for August 8.

Charges date back to 2006 and include inappropriate relationships with students, calling female students out of class and into is office as a parent liasion for reasons unrelated to school, groping five female students students, as well as two female staff members, a teacher and a guidance counselor. The misdemeanor charges against Frazier include that he grabbed one student's buttocks in at least 20 different encounters, giving long hugs, trying to buy one student an alcoholic drink when he ran into her at a local restaurant, and rubbing another student's shoulders on the football field.

All the victims told police that Frazier's behavior made them feel uncomfortable, according to the report.

Frazier is currently on paid administrative leave, and Mills said that he is not ready to make a decision on Frazier's employment status with the school district. The school district investigation is to help decide whether Frazier, who is currently on paid leave, will continue to be an employee at the school district.

"...The district clearly acknowledges the fact that Mr. Frazier is innocent until

proven guilty and we ask the community to reserve judgment until the legal charges are resolved," Mills said Monday.

The district will resume its investigation of Frazier led by the office of professional standard's new investigator Troy Pumphrey, pending approval by the school board Monday night. Mills said that he does not have comments about the investigation that occurred before he started his tenure as superintendent.

Pumphrey said that if his employment is approved Monday evening, his start date will be Tuesday.

"I have no idea about the particulars of the Frazier case yet," Pumphrey told the Herald on Monday.

Edwin Mulock, Frazier's attorney, said that he believes the school district's investigation "doesn't matter," and he agrees with Mills' comments.

"I too would ask the community to reserve its judgement until we get people under oath to see what is really behind this," Mulock said.

Mulock said that Frazier could hire a lawyer if the school district decides to fire him.

"He doesn't have to, but when going through the process of losing his job, he might want to hire somebody," Mulock said. "The school district has quite a bit of discretion in my opinion, but there must be some basis for it, such as conduct unbecoming of a teacher."

Mulock added that Frazier would have to be given notice.

"I still need to know more information about the charges," which were revealed on Friday, Mulock said. "We are just getting started."

The initial investigation by the school district's office of professional standards and former investigator Debra Horne was put on hold when the Bradenton Police Department began its investigation in February. Horne left her post as investigator to become the assistant principal at Prine Elementary School.

Mills said that this new investigation will look into a decision around Frazier only, though he said Monday that the State Attorney's Office told him at the end of June that the case may involve other district officials.

"I have no knowledge of the extent of others involved," Mills said.

Mills said that he has had no contact with Frazier nor with any of the women who made the allegations against Frazier.

One woman, a teacher, said she did not report an incident in which Frazier slapped her on the behind at a school Christmas party because she was new and was afraid for her job.

Mills said if the district's investigation supports charges sufficient to fire Frazier, he will recommend Frazier's termination to the school board. He did not specify what evidence would be sufficient to fire Frazier.

"We take all matters regarding students' safety very seriously," Mills said. "I'm here to take the district to greatness and take all the challenges that come with it."

Mills also announced that starting with the 2013-2014 school year, he will expand the teachers' training about recognizing suspected child abuse to all district staff. Mills said the mandatory training courses will be completed by August 31.

Mills said that complaints that no one reported Frazier's alleged behavior is not the only reason he decided to expand the training to all employees.

"When I came in March, I was asking questions around it," Mills said.

He read from his press release: "The number one priority of the Manatee County School District is the safety and security of our students, staff and faculties. We can never be too vigilant in the protection of our students and employees."

Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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