Education

Manatee School District will not renew investigator Troy Pumphrey's annual contract

BRADENTON -- The Manatee County School District will not renew the contract for its professional standards investigator, according to information staff attorney Mitchell Teitelbaum sent to Troy Pumphrey this week.

"Troy Pumphrey is a direct report to my office and the decision of his employment renewal rests with me," Teitelbaum said in a statement. "After careful deliberation and in the best interests of the School District of Manatee County, I have decided that Mr. Pumphrey will not be recommended for renewal for the 2015-2016 school year."

When reached Friday afternoon, Christine Sensenig, a lawyer representing Pumphrey, said she was not aware of the letter until being informed by the Bradenton Herald. The letter is dated Wednesday and was sent via certified mail.

"We've been wondering when the district would reach out after the outside investigation came back," she said. "We assumed he'd return to work."

Pumphrey was placed on administrative leave in January by then-Superintendent Rick Mills after allegations that Pumphrey lied on his resume when applying to the school district about holding certain private-investigator licenses and after an anonymous package was sent to the school district contain

ing information about an expunged criminal record that Pumphrey had failed to disclose when applying to the district.

The day after being suspended, Pumphrey filed a lawsuit in Manatee County against the school district and against board member Dave Miner, individually. The lawsuit has since been moved to federal court. Miner was named individually because in October, he had held a press conference calling out Pumphrey for lying on his resume and saying that Mills should ask Pumphrey to resign. Miner then repeatedly pushed board members to add an item about the employment status of Pumphrey to board agendas, but failed to gain a majority and add the issue to the agenda.

After placing Pumphrey on paid administrative leave in January, Mills directed an outside agency to investigate him. Lindsay Oyewale, a lawyer with DeBeaubien Knight Simmons Mantzaris & Neal, found that Pumphrey should have been truthful in his application when asked whether he had a criminal record or had any expunged charges in her 10-page report dated April 14.

The investigation said there was "no rational basis" for Pumphrey not to disclose when applying to the district, but Pumphrey claimed he was acting upon advice of his lawyers. The report said Pumphrey, a former law enforcement official, should have known to check with a Florida-based lawyer, since laws vary from state-to-state.

The expunged charge deals with a 1997 case in which Pumphrey said he signed his friend's name with his friend's permission on a deed of trust, which was then notarized and recorded in St. Mary's, Md. A bank later performed an inspection and found a discrepancy in the signature. Criminal charges were filed, Pumphrey wrote on his application.

Investigators declined to prosecute and Pumphrey stated the case was set to be expunged after a year.

Pumphrey said he didn't include the information when applying to Manatee County on the advice of a Maryland-based lawyer because the record had been sealed and expunged.

A memo accompanying the outside report, authored by David Miklas, a lawyer with Richeson & Coke, recommended Pumphrey be allowed to continue his employment because the district does not apply the same hiring rules and policies consistently.

In late-April, lawyers for the school district filed a motion to dismiss Pumphrey's complaint, claiming Pumphrey's suit fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The motion to dismiss would allow Pumphrey's lawyers to amend the complaint.

A judge has not yet ruled.

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.

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