MANATEE -- As the Manatee County School Board headed into an executive session to discuss legal issues Tuesday, supporters of a former district administrator said it's time for the Manatee County School District to erase the past.
Bob Gagnon's supporters urged the school board to rehire the former Manatee High principal turned assistant district superintendent.
"Make this wrong right," William Law told the board. "Hire him back for all our kid's sakes."
Law, a former substitute teacher, worked as a full-time teacher at Manatee High under Gagnon for a year. Law's wife was also a teacher at the school.
After hearing from Gagnon's supporters, the school board
went into a closed meeting, possibly to discuss a lawsuit Gagnon has filed against the district. The board is allowed to meet in closed session to discuss legal matters. Only board members and high-ranking district officials -- Superintendent Diana Greene and district and staff lawyers -- are allowed in the room during the meeting.
Gagnon, a former principal and an interim superintendent for a short time, has a lawsuit pending against the school board claiming certain individuals in the district targeted him during an investigation into allegations against Roderick Frazier a parent liaison at Manatee High.
Gagnon was acquitted in criminal court on charges related to the Frazier case. Gagnon was also cleared by an administrative judge, who said the district failed to show enough evidence Gagnon violated any law, rule or board policy.
The board has since reimbursed Gagnon for back pay and legal fees, but he has not been rehired.
In January, Circuit Court Judge Stephen Dakan allowed Gagnon's defamation lawsuit against the Manatee County School District to go to forward.
Gagnon's suit names the board, former Superintendent Rick Mills, former school board member Julie Aranibar, former school district investigator Troy Pumphrey and current board Chairwoman Karen Carpenter individually.
On Tuesday, some members of the public questioned whether the board should be shouldering the financial burden for the individuals named.
For the most part, district employees pay their own way through the legal system. If they are found not guilty, the district will reimburse them.
"We currently have a case in which the opposite is happening," Kris Bayer said.
While the Frazier case is closed, school board member Charlie Kennedy said he is upset Manatee High continues to be a target from a small group of people who seem to have a vendetta against the school.
"How are we as a school district supposed to carry on our mission when we have these kinds of goings-on to undermine us?" Kennedy asked. "This kind of thing has got to stop."
In mid-February, Bradenton police launched a two-day investigation at the school over rumors a coach at the school was having sex with a student. Ultimately, the police found the rumor to be untrue and closed the investigation.
"This Board will not allow the actions of a very small but vocal group to carry out personal and political vendettas against students and staff this board was sworn to represent, protect and lead," he said.
The police investigation found Alice Kaddatz, the parent of the student who accused Frazier, was the source of the rumor after she said she was approached by an unknown woman in the Palmetto Wal-Mart. Kaddatz then emailed Peggy Martin, who spoke to Carpenter. Carpenter reported the information to Teitelbaum, who called the police and child protection services.
According to the police investigation report, Martin resisted revealing her source until she was threatened with a subpoena.
Kaddatz could not provide a description or name of the person who told her the rumor, according to the police report.
Police and the district internal investigations found the rumor unfounded.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.