Manatee County school employee under investigation, accused of sending lewd picture to student

Manatee County

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Manatee County school employee is accused of some disturbing contact with a student.

Officials say he sent the young boy sexual messages and a lewd picture.

Now he’s out of his job at Horizons Academy as deputies investigate him.

Ozanda Gray is a former registrar at Horizons Academy. Officials say he handled records and didn’t have much interaction with students.

But in October a student came forward saying for five months, he and Gray exchanged sexual messages. The boy said Gray even sent him a photo of a penis.

Gray had also taken the boy out for dinner.

“You cannot put a student in harm’s way,” said school district general counsel Mitchell Teitelbaum.

Teitelbaum says the school district took action.

“If there are allegations of a serious nature, an employee will be removed, the matter will be investigated,” he said.

Gray admitted to the claims, but both he and the student emphasized that there was no sexual relationship.

Gray was placed on administrative leave and he resigned the next day.

8 On Your Side visited Gray’s home but he wasn’t interested in talking.

Now the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case.

“Of 8,000 employees, this is the exception not the rule,” said Teitelbaum. “You cannot put a student in harm’s way.”

Gray passed a background check prior to his employment. He’s also spent time as a church elder, a church youth leader, and he’s mentored youth in the community.

It’s unclear at this time if charges will be filed.

At this time, officials do not believe there are other victims but the case is still under investigation.

Officials at the Sheriff’s Office did not wish to comment.

If you have any information to help with this case, call the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

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