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Pasco teacher transferred after demeaning remarks to students

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Published:   |   Updated: March 12, 2013 at 01:26 PM
LAND O' LAKES -

A middle school teacher who was nearly fired because of demeaning and sarcastic remarks he reportedly made to students is being transferred to a lower-paying job as an instructional assistant at Anclote High School.

The Pasco County School Board approved Robert Fine's transfer Tuesday morning.

The board's action ends a saga that began in October when Fine, who taught science at Seven Springs Middle, was suspended without pay.

An instructional assistant provides support to a teacher in such areas as classroom management and instruction, but works under the direct supervision of the teacher.

Former Superintendent Heather Fiorentino had recommended the board fire Fine, but he appealed the recommendation with help from United School Employees of Pasco.

A hearing before the school board was scheduled for Jan. 29, but was cancelled when it appeared a settlement was eminent, said Kevin Shibley, the school district's employee relations director.

The employee relations department continued last week to work out the details of that settlement before bringing the recommendation about the new job for Fine to the board.

School officials warned Fine for four years to stop making inappropriate remarks, according to district records.

According to reports:

Fine told a student, "Honey, you look bad every day. Pages will be turning in the yearbook and mirrors will be smashing."

He suggested a girl with hiccups look in a mirror to "scare" the hiccups away.

Once, when a boy called out an answer that a girl couldn't come up with, Fine told the girl she was a good ventriloquist because "you made the answer come out of the dummy in the back."

Parents complained and some requested their children be moved out of Fine's class after this year's open house when Fine reportedly told the parents he was an "equal opportunity picker-oner" and his wife often reminds him to "stop tailgating the students."

Fine, who also was the subject of complaints when he taught at Bayonet Point Middle, told district officials that the use of sarcasm and humor was his way of building rapport with students, records said.


rblair@tampatrib.com (813) 371-1853 Twitter: @RBlairTBO

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