Florida School District Knows Sex Scandals

In October 2007, Christina Lin Butler, a 33-year-old special education teacher at Hillsborough County's Middleton High School, was arrested after admitting to having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old male student there.

Police conducting surveillance in Butler's neighborhood pulled over a Jeep Cherokee that was swerving and traced the vehicle to Butler. The driver told police that his "friend" Christina had lent him the car, according to ABC News' Tampa affiliate, and another passenger said the driver was in a relationship with Butler. Police investigated and arrested Butler after she admitted the sexual relationship to police.

Butler was booked on a single charge of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor. She was released from the Hillsborough County Jail after posting a $7,500 bond, according to sheriff's office records.

Butler, a temporary employee, has been suspended without pay and was notified that she will not be offered a position next year, Linda Cobbe, a spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County School District, told ABC News.

In Jail, Suspended From School

Ragusa received a letter in jail Thursday night notifying her that she was suspended with pay, Cobbe said, adding that Hillsborough school superintendent MaryEllen Elia will ask the county's school board next week to revoke Ragusa's payment during the suspension.

Ragusa, who was also booked in Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office in July 2005 on a charge of driving under the influence, did not notify school officials of that previous arrest when she applied for a teaching position in August 2006.

"She apparently falsified information," Cobbe said, "She checked that she had no prior arrests."

The suspended teacher has a degree in political science from the University of South Florida, Cobbe said, and had nothing in her application file that would indicate that she was a threat to students. "There's no way to predict who is going to enter into an affair with a student," Cobbe said. "We certainly didn't know she had tendencies like she's done."

Hillsborough School District is the eighth largest school district in the country, Cobbe said, with more than 15,000 teachers, 236 schools and 192,000 students. A reputation for teachers preying on students is hardly what the school district wants, and Cobbe said that district officials do everything they can to vet employees.

When problems do arise, the school district does not hide. "We address it every time it happens," Cobbe said, describing ethics classes every teacher must take that address inappropriate relationships with students. "We don't stand for it."

Cobbe did acknowledge that the district, like all others in Florida, is required by the state to have a certain number of teachers per students, a mandate that means a lot of hiring in what until recently was a very fast-growing county.

"We have a few teachers who have been accused of crimes that are unconscionable," Cobbe said. "We have more than 15,000 teachers who are dedicated and trustworthy."

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 4453608. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 4453608.
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...