Third administrator placed on leave as Manatee school district investigates Frazier

Herald Staff ReportersAugust 8, 2013 

MANATEE-- Debra Horne, an assistant principal at Prine Elementary School and the school district's former internal investigator, has been placed on administrative leave as part of an internal investigation of former Manatee High football coach Rod Frazier, Superintendent Rick Mills said Wednesday.

"As a result of information obtained in an internal Manatee County School District investigation of the Rod Frazier case at Manatee High School, I have decided to place Debra Horne on paid administrative leave," Mills said in a statement. At the conclusion of the investigation, if disciplinary action is warranted, I will bring that before the School Board of Manatee County."

Horne's attorney Peter Lombardo said he went with Horne to the school board Tuesday when she was suspended. Lombardo said Mills did not go into detail about why specifically Horne was put on leave.

"I am disappointed in the schools board's decision to place Ms. Horne on paid ad

ministrative leave," Lombardo said. "It is crystal clear she followed all laws and policies of the school board and received legal advice."

Horne is the third administrator suspended this week, as the district continues its own investigation into Frazier's conduct with students and staff at Manatee High School.

Horne, earlier this year led the initial probe of Frazier. She transferred out of that position in the middle of the investigation.

Two other school district officials, Assistant Superintendent Robert Gagnon and staff attorney Scott Martin, were suspended Monday, as part of the school district's ongoing internal investigation, Mills said earlier in the week.

The State Attorney's Office last month charged Frazier, who worked at Manatee High School as a parent liaison, with seven counts of misdemeanor battery and three counts of school interference, also misdemeanors, for what prosecutors say was improper contact with students and staff. He has denied the charges.

Frazier was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday morning but his attorney Edwin Mulock filed a written notice of appearance and entered his plea of not guilty. The notice waived Frazier's right to appear and have the charges formally read.

A request for a trial date to be set was also included in the notice.

On Monday Mulock filed a motion to dismiss seven of the 10 charges Frazier is facing stating that they exceed the statue of limitations. Mulock also filed a bill of particulars requesting more specifics on the charges against Frazier such as date, time and place.

No one else has been charged with a crime in the case.

Horne had reported to Martin when she worked as the investigator in the office of professional standards. Martin was suspended Monday.

James Dyes of Dye, Deitrich, Petruff and St. Paul, the school board attorney, is preparing to take on a larger role and help serve some of the duties as the staff attorney in Martin's absence.

School board chairwoman Karen Carpenter said she does not believe it is an issue for the school board attorney to also help out as staff attorney.

"I do not believe this poses an issue because we all have the same interests," Carpenter said.

Carpenter did not have a comment about the ongoing investigation or about Horne, Gagnon and Martin being placed on leave.

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