Judge allows separate trial for former Manatee schools official in Frazier case

eearl@bradenton.comOctober 29, 2013 

Debra Horne, former Manate County School District investigator and assistant principal, sits in Thomas Krug's courtroom Thursday at a hearing to request her trial be separated from others charged with failing to report child abuse in the Roderick Frazier case. TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/Bradenton Herald

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MANATEE -- Manatee County Circuit Judge Thomas Krug agreed Monday to sever former Manatee County School District investigator Debra Horne's trial from the trial of three other school district employees charged in the probe of Manatee High assistant football coach Rod Frazier.

Horne is being charged with failure to report suspected child abuse, along with former Manatee High Principal Robert Gagnon and former assistant principals Greg Faller and Matthew Kane.

Kane and Gagnon were also charged with providing false information to law enforcement.

As former investigator for the district Office of Professional Standards, Horne had opened an investigation of Frazier. Shortly after she did, she left the position to become assistant principal of Prine Elementary.

Horne's attorney Derek Byrd said the state "improperly joined her offense with the other codefendants' offenses" and "improperly joined her as a codefendant."

Horne announced her retirement from the school district Oct. 14. Her retirement will be effective Nov. 2.

Scott Martin, former school district staff attorney, also submitted his resignation Monday. While Martin does not face charges, he was recommended for termination after the district's probe with new investigator Troy Pumphrey,

The Manatee County School Board was scheduled to vote on the termination of Gagnon, Kane and Faller at a meeting Monday. However, all three employees requested a hearing within the 21 days from receiving administrative complaints.

The board voted to suspend Gagnon, Kane and Faller without pay at the Oct. 14 board meeting.

Patricia Petruff, attorney from the school board attorney's firm Dye, Deitrich, Petruff & St. Paul, said the district has 15 days to review the requests for hearings to make sure they are done correctly and submit them to the state division on administrative hearings to be scheduled.

Petruff said the review is done by school board chairwoman Karen Carpenter and school board attorney James Dye.

Petruff was filling in for Dye Monday night, and Carpenter said she could not comment on the cases.

Petruff said the requests for hearings came were submitted Friday -- the cut-off day. The requests have yet to be reviewed.

Petruff said a Manatee High School student has filed a notice of claim.

"It has to be filed with the school district and the insurance commissioner, then the district has six months to respond," Petruff said. "At end of the six months, the party then has the right to file a lawsuit."

The notice of claim is pending.

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

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