Parents question placing troubled janitor in Pasco elementary school, get vague answers

8 On Your Side

School district contends no children were at risk

LAND O’ LAKES, Fla. (WFLA) – An 8 On Your Side investigation about a troubled janitor and a school district’s decision to place him near children prompted a call from the principal’s office.

Principal Kelly Edwards from Connerton Elementary placed a robocall to parents on Thursday.

“Hello, this is Mrs. Edwards. I’m calling parents regarding our former custodian Mr. Roarks because a news station is running a story this evening,” the call explained.

The former custodian stabbed himself in the chest and stomach on school grounds on Oct. 8 with a 6 to 10-inch knife.

“At the time of the incident Mr. Roarks was disarmed and our armed security guard detained him before deputies arrived minutes later,” Mrs. Edwards added. “There was no chance that he could interact with any students.”

A Pasco deputy’s body cam video shows it took several people to hold the man down. Although he was disarmed, no one knew he had a knife and nobody stopped him from stabbing himself.

That is too close a call for some parents who contacted 8 On Your Side but declined to speak on camera for fear of retribution to their children.

The video also shows he was combative, apologetic and even tried to bite his rescuers.

The custodian was taken to a hospital, where he was Baker Acted because it was determined he posed a threat to himself or others. He later resigned and was arrested several days later, charged with possession of a weapon on school grounds.

Our investigation found the same custodian was also rushed to a hospital last December after co-workers found he had taken prescription medication and alcohol at the school. He told a doctor he was thinking about hanging himself.

The school district suspended him for three days and later returned him to Connerton. Parents want to know why.

The school district claims confidentiality laws prohibit it from discussing details.

“When we have situations like that, we will take the necessary steps that’s covered under our personnel policy and at that point in time based on the information that we have, we followed the policy that was in place,” Superintendent Kurt Browning said Friday.

Principal Edwards also told parents that school officials met with the sheriff’s office to review Connerton’s safety policies.

Parents think the district’s personnel policy should be reviewed and possibly changed.

If you know of something that you think should be investigated, call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1-800-338-0808 or contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com

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