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Education

Former Rodgers Middle assistant principal appeals for back pay


Published:   |   Updated: October 15, 2013 at 06:17 AM

Five Hillsborough County School Board members will meet Tuesday to decide whether the former Rodgers Middle School assistant principal is eligible for back pay after being fired in January.

Board members Doretha Edgecomb, April Griffin, Carol Kurdell, Candy Olson and Susan Valdes will attend what is called an employee termination hearing at 1 p.m. in the auditorium at district headquarters, 901 E. Kennedy Blvd.

Shawn Livingston, a first-year administrator at Rodgers, lost his job after 11-year-old student Jenny Caballero, who had Down syndrome, wandered away from a gym class and drowned in a pond on school property last October.

Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia accused Livingston of incompetence and willful neglect of duty in December and the school board fired him on her recommendation Jan. 15.

Livingston was given the option to be demoted to a teaching position, but he said that would have precluded him from appealing the charges.

In February, the district decided not to renominate him as assistant principal. However, he could be eligible for back pay if the school board rules his contract was violated.

Former Rodgers Principal Sharon Tumicki was demoted to assistant principal and is no longer at the school. In addition, the gym teacher retired and five aides have all either retired, resigned or were fired.

Livingston’s attorney, Robert McKee, said that along with back pay, Livingston hopes to be reinstated to his job as assistant principal.

“We hope to convince the school board that the superintendent didn’t prove the charges she brought against Mr. Livingston,” McKee said.

District spokesman Steve Hegarty said the purpose of the termination hearing is to finalize the back pay issue only. Also Tuesday, the board will:

Meet at 8 a.m. to select an attorney from the three final candidates — Steve Anderson, Jim Porter and David Singer. Attorney Tom Gonzalez, who advises the school district and school board, will continue to represent the district only. The new attorney will represent the board.

Meet at 8:30 a.m. to review overall district policies.

ekourkounis@tampatrib.com

(813)259-7999

Twitter: @ErinKTBO

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