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Browder: No cause to discipline Sanibel School staff

By Staff | Jan 12, 2010

Lee School Superintendent James Browder delivered the findings of an investigation into allegations of harassment and intimidation at The Sanibel School Tuesday, saying he has found no reason to discipline the school’s principal or administration.

Thirty-five parents filed formal complaints last fall over the alleged mistreatment of students and employees.

Browder gave a memorandum to the five members of the school board Tuesday stating he consulted with the district’s Human Resources, Professional Standards and Attorney’s Office and declared that no discipline will befall the administration.

“I want to make it clear that my desire from the beginning has been to find the truth and take appropriate action,” wrote Browder. “I have reviewed the investigation into each complaint. After doing so, I find no grounds to discipline the principal.”

TEAM Sanibel, a group of parents who filed the complaints, sent out a press release stating they weren’t attending Tuesday’s meeting because they were not satisfied with how the investigation was being conducted. They stated the district only contacted a fraction of the 35 complainants for the investigation.

Board Member Robert Chilmonik said he was concerned about the transparency of the investigation.

“Any time you have an issue, something as large as what happened at The Sanibel School, the most important thing is to be transparent, not only for the parents but principal and staff of that school,” said Chilmonik.

Although Browder found no grounds to discipline the school’s administration or Principal Barbara Von Harten, he did state that, “I believe there are situations that could have been handled differently,” and said he will work with the principal to deal with any of those issues.

In the memorandum Browder said he also consulted with Tampa Bay attorney Thomas Gonzalez, an expert in employment law for the past 35 years, who concurred with Browder.

“It is my professional opinion that the complaints which have been made against Ms. Von Harten include many allegations which are not worth any serious attention, and of a volume consistent with a long-term principal who has established a management style which has allowed her to be successful,” wrote Gonzalez in a letter to Browder.

Browder: No cause to discipline Sanibel School staff

By Staff | Jan 12, 2010

Lee School Superintendent James Browder delivered the findings of an investigation into allegations of harassment and intimidation at The Sanibel School Tuesday, saying he has found no reason to discipline the school’s principal or administration.
Thirty-five parents filed formal complaints last fall over the alleged mistreatment of students and employees.
Browder gave a memorandum to the five members of the school board Tuesday stating he consulted with the district’s Human Resources, Professional Standards and Attorney’s Office and declared that no discipline will befall the administration.
“I want to make it clear that my desire from the beginning has been to find the truth and take appropriate action,” wrote Browder. “I have reviewed the investigation into each complaint. After doing so, I find no grounds to discipline the principal.”
TEAM Sanibel, a group of parents who filed the complaints, sent out a press release stating they weren’t attending Tuesday’s meeting because they were not satisfied with how the investigation was being conducted. They stated the district only contacted a fraction of the 35 complainants for the investigation.
Board Member Robert Chilmonik said he was concerned about the transparency of the investigation.
“Any time you have an issue, something as large as what happened at The Sanibel School, the most important thing is to be transparent, not only for the parents but principal and staff of that school,” said Chilmonik.
Although Browder found no grounds to discipline the school’s administration or Principal Barbara Von Harten, he did state that, “I believe there are situations that could have been handled differently,” and said he will work with the principal to deal with any of those issues.
In the memorandum Browder said he also consulted with Tampa Bay attorney Thomas Gonzalez, an expert in employment law for the past 35 years, who concurred with Browder.
“It is my professional opinion that the complaints which have been made against Ms. Von Harten include many allegations which are not worth any serious attention, and of a volume consistent with a long-term principal who has established a management style which has allowed her to be successful,” wrote Gonzalez in a letter to Browder.