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, said Superintendent Rick Mills on 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 is the third administrator suspended this week, as the district continues its own investigation of Frazier.
Horne, the district's former internal investigator, 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 ongoing internal investigation of the Frazier matter by the school district, Mills said earlier in the week.
Frazier on July 19 was charged 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.
No one else has been charged with a crime in the case.
Horne’s attorney Peter Lombardo said he went with Horne to the school board Tuesday when she was suspended. Lombardo said that Superintendent Rick Mills did not go into detail about why specifically Horne was out on leave.
“I am disappointed in the schools board’s decision to place Ms. Horne on paid administrative leave,” Lombardo said. “It is crystal clear she followed all laws and policies of the school board and received legal advice.”
Horne had reported to Martin when she worked as the investigator in the office of professional standards.
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 that 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 on the ongoing investigation or about Horne, Gagnon and Martin being placed on leave.