2 senior Manatee schools officials suspended in Frazier investigation

Herald Staff WritersAugust 6, 2013 

Martin

BRADENTON -- Manatee schools Assistant Superintendent Bob Gagnon and staff attorney Scott Martin have been suspended with pay after further internal investigation of the case against former Manatee High School assistant coach Rod Frazier.

The suspensions come "as the result of information obtained in an internal investigation of the Rod Frazier case at Manatee High School," Superintendent Rick Mills said in a statement Monday afternoon.

Mills said he notified Gagnon and Martin Monday morning of the suspensions. He declined to make any additional comments outside his written statement.

"I want to be open to the media, but we cannot talk about this," Mills said. "It is an ongoing investigation."

Gagnon was principal at Manatee High School during part of Frazier's tenure there. Martin was assistant superintendent of operations before Mills joined the district earlier this year.

Gagnon and Martin did not return messages from the Herald seeking comment.

Only Frazier has been criminally charged in the case.

Gagnon's attorney Wade Thompson declined to comment about his client being placed on leave.

"There is nothing I can disclose, and I am not going to make any statement," Thompson said. "It is confidential and privileged."

Frazier's attorney Edwin Mulock said he is "glad" neither Martin nor Gagnon were arrested Monday.

"Gagnon is a mighty fine person, and an outstanding principal and administrative person," Mulock said. "I hope we do not lose him. I will be very disappointed if that's the case. I had hoped that he might even be the superintendent one day."

In anticipation of Frazier's arraignment Thursday, Mulock filed a motion Mon

day to dismiss seven of 10 charges against Frazier, including five misdemeanor battery charges and two misdemeanor charges of the interference with a student to attend school.

Frazier, a former assistant football coach and parent liaison, has been charged with seven counts of misdemeanor battery involving allegations of improper conduct involving students and staff members at Manatee High School. Frazier has denied the charges, but later resigned from his position at the school.

"According to the statute, there is so much time to bring up a criminal case, and some of these charges date back to '06 and '08," Mulock said.

Mulock said these charges were filed after the statute of limitation of two years for the battery charges and one year on the charges of interfering with a student's attendance.

Mulock also filed a bill of particulars Monday.

"We are asking them to be more specific about what the charges are about and the date, time and place of the charges," Mulock said.

Mulock said the other two charges for battery and charge for interference of a student's attendance are not outside the statute of limitations.

"That does not mean they are good charges," Mulock said. "But from the information, they are not outside the statutes."

Gagnon, former assistant superintendent of instruction for the district, was briefly the district's interim superintendent after Tim McGonegal resigned last September and before another interim, David Gayler, was hired.

Mills recently named Gagnon assistant superintendent on assignment. Deputy Superintendent Diana Greene said at the time he would be helping the district's executive director of elementary schools.

Mills also issued a news release Monday explaining steps that will be taken while Gagnon and Martin are on paid suspension.

When the results of the investigation are reviewed or if charges are filed, Mills said he will bring his recommendation whether to fire Gagnon and Martin to the school board.

The circumstances of the suspensions sparked tension Monday between the school district and the Bradenton Police Department, which investigated the case that led to the charges against Frazier.

Police Chief Michael Radzilowski said he was told by a school district official that Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputies had been called to the administration building Monday morning.

Radzilowski was angry the school district contacted the sheriff's office, and not the police department -- which has jurisdiction in downtown Bradenton -- to handle the matter.

"I strongly object to your office calling the Manatee County Sheriff's Office for a law enforcement matter in the city," Radzilowski e-mailed Mills. "I am sure the sheriff himself was not aware of this request.

"In the future contact the Bradenton Police Department for law enforcement services within the city of Bradenton," Radzilowski wrote Mills.

Radzilowski said Mills later called Mayor Wayne Poston to apologize for the misunderstanding.

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

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