Sarasota schools upset about principal’s job recommendation. But it wasn’t a crime, cops say

Principal Eddie Hundley addresses his board at Lincoln Memorial Academy’s first meeting as a charter school.
Principal Eddie Hundley addresses his board at Lincoln Memorial Academy’s first meeting as a charter school.

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office says it is closing its investigation into whether the principal at Lincoln Memorial Academy in Palmetto knowingly mislead officials when he recommended a former teacher for a job with Sarasota schools.

No charges will be filed, according to the sheriff’s office, after detectives met with school officials and “were unable to establish a crime had occurred within the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office’s jurisdiction.”

Detectives were looking into whether Eddie Hundley committed a second-degree misdemeanor of giving false or written statements with the goal of misleading a public servant, when he recommended the former teacher, Quentin Peterson, for a job in Sarasota while Peterson was under criminal investigation by Palmetto police.

The Sarasota investigation got underway following a request filed by Sarasota Superintendent Todd Bowden at the urging of of Bridget Ziegler, chair of the Sarasota County School Board.

Hundley provided Peterson with two recommendations for employment with the Sarasota County School District. Peterson had resigned from Lincoln Middle School — which is now known as Lincoln Memorial Academy — while under investigation in Palmetto, which police say Hundley knew about.

Peterson was arrested in February after an investigation into whether he had a sexual relationship with a teenage girl uncovered child pornography on his computer, according to authorities. At the time of his arrest, Peterson was working at Booker High School in Sarasota as a math teacher.

Quentin Peterson

The Bradenton Herald reached out to Hundley for comment but a call was not returned.

Hundley is still being investigated by the Florida Department of Education which was prompted by a complaint filed by the Sarasota school district on April 30.

Peterson is currently set to stand trial in February 2019 on one felony count of possessing child pornography.

During his tenure as a music teacher at Lincoln Middle, Peterson was accused twice before of inappropriately touching students but never faced any charges. In 2012, he was also accused of inappropriately touched an under-aged girl before he was a teacher.

Lincoln Memorial Academy is a public charter school opening its doors to students for the first time in August. It is located at the campus of the former Lincoln Middle School in Palmetto.

Charter schools are one option in the growing "school choice" movement. Funded by taxpayer money, these schools are growing nationally, though some states have yet to pass related laws. Find out what sets them apart from traditional public and pri