SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Sarasota County’s school superintendent could be out of a job for his handling of a sexual harassment complaint.
He sparked outrage at a meeting today when he offered to resign for a hefty price but the school board said no.
After a marathon meeting, the board voted 4 to 1 to either suspend the superintendent without pay or terminate him.
A final decision will be made on Dec. 10 at 9 a.m.
But over the course of the day, many were infuriated by Bowden’s compromise that he offered.
Last week, Assistant Superintendent Jeff Maultsby resigned because of claims that he sexually harassed his administrative assistant, Cheraina Bonner.
Recently a third-party investigative report found Superintendent Dr. Todd Bowden was irresponsible in his handling of her case.
The report says he failed to promptly and adequately investigate her claims.
So, a meeting was scheduled on Tuesday to discuss Bowden’s future. But the superintendent threw a curveball before the meeting, offering to resign in exchange for a new job in the district, with a 10-year contract, paying $175,000 annually.
He also asked for severance and a reimbursement of legal fees.
Bowden defended himself.
“This agreement costs my family hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Bowden. “This isn’t a golden parachute, this is a compromise.”
Board member Bridget Ziegler was disgusted.
“I am so disgusted that this proposal was brought forward. If it wasn’t so serious, you’d almost have to laugh at it because how could you possibly think that this is something that we would truly consider?”
Board member Caroline Zucker stood up for Bowden and addressed the crowd.
“I’m tired of you all…letting the (teacher’s) union dictate what we do as a board…I don’t care what you say, how’s that?”
“If you read this (third party) report, this report is hearsay,” Zucker added. “We either accept (the compromise) or we keep Dr. Bowden as superintendent.”
Many in the crowd were not happy. One man emerged from the crowd and walked right to Bowden’s face. “You’re a pig!” he screamed.
As the man was escorted out he yelled, “This is a sham! (expletive) Give him a new job!? Are you kidding me?! That’s (expletive) ridiculous!”
Others from the public spoke out against the deal. Maultsby’s accuser also raised her voice during the meeting. She was very critical of the board.
“Neither one of you, Todd, have you came to me and apologized! You apologized for the public, but not one time have you apologized to me, everything you do is for media, that is it, you talk about your family, what about my family?” said Bonner.
“What I’m not going to allow you to do is keep dragging my name through the mud. I didn’t ask for Jeff to do this, I didn’t ask for Todd to ignore me,” Bonner exclaimed.
After a meeting lasting more than five hours, the board voted 4 to 1 to either suspend Bowden without pay or terminate him.
The only dissenting vote was from Caroline Zucker.
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