SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – A school resource officer is fighting for her job after a Sarasota teacher was arrested for allegedly groping students.
The SRO says she took action to protect the girls when the administration failed. Now she feels she’s being punished.
Brookside Middle School teacher Maxwell Guss was arrested on Monday. He was accused of inappropriately touching multiple girls in his business class back in September.
According to attorney Sara Blackwell, those girls first went to the principal and nothing was done. So they then confided in School Resource Officer Kimberly Whyley.
Whyley claims after she got involved, that’s when Sarasota Police and DCF were notified.
“She immediately called their supervisor and DCF was called, Sarasota PD was called, everything started at that moment,” explained Blackwell.
Blackwell says Whyley was shocked at the principal’s response.
“She spoke to the principal after that, he was very angry with her, he said he had already taken care of it,” said Blackwell.
Whyley’s association with the principal soured and she was later placed on leave, accused of mishandling a separate bullying case.
“Its quite obvious that after she made this report that the principal was out to get rid of her. In my opinion he didn’t want his crime numbers up,” said Blackwell.
Whyley has filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and plans to file a lawsuit.
“The mistreatment and the retaliation has been hard on her as well because she was doing her job,” said Blackwell. “She is being retaliated against for reporting sexual harassment which is against federal law.”
The school district refutes these claims. A spokesperson says school administrators notified DCF about Guss and followed policies in a timely fashion.
The school district says administrators learned of the complaints as school dismissed on Sept. 4. They say the assistant principal interviewed students the following day then immediately removed Guss from school and placed him on administrative leave.
The allegations were also reported to DCF by the principal and assistant principal that afternoon. DCF notified the principal that evening that an investigation was launched.
Sarasota County Schools did not go into detail on Whyley’s response to an alleged bullying case. An official says this “unrelated incident” occurred between Officer Whyley and a student on Oct. 1.
Officials say shortly thereafter, the student’s parent asked to review video footage of the alleged incident. After viewing the video, they requested criminal charges to be filed against the officer. The SCSPD turned this over to SPD for their criminal investigation, which has concluded and is pending further review by the State Attorney’s Office.
An internal affairs investigation is also underway.
Throughout this investigation, Officer Whyley has been on paid administrative leave and has not served around students.
In addition, a committee is being formed to investigate Whyley’s complaints and the school’s handling of the Guss case.
The committee’s findings will be released sometime next month.
LATEST SARASOTA COUNTY NEWS:
- Sarasota Memorial Hospital furloughing employees amid coronavirus pandemic
- Golf courses are open during Florida stay-at-home order
- USF to waive deposit fees, extend admissions deadlines for new students impacted by COVID-19
- 3rd patient dies from COVID-19 at Sarasota Memorial Hospital
- Let’s boogie! Local dance studio offers free virtual lessons during coronavirus crisis