A Countryside High School drama teacher caught on camera throwing a chair in a hallway crowded with students is getting a written reprimand by the Pinellas County School District, even as some parents want a more severe punishment.
Kimberly Florio is seen tossing a chair that appears to bounce near a group of students sitting on the hallway floor during the October 15 incident.
One student claimed the chair struck her in the foot.
After a review by law enforcement and the state attorney, no criminal charges will be filed. The Pinellas district said after its own investigation that there was no harm intended, and therefore no need to suspend or fire Florio.
"It's clear that the teacher was upset and so she did toss the chair into the hallway," said Melanie Marquez Parra, Pinellas School District spokeswoman. "It is also clear that there wasn't any intent to harm another person or a student."
Dawn Henner, the mother of the student who claimed to be hit by the bouncing chair, disagreed. "I was counting on them to do the right thing, but clearly they have not," Henner said.
The parent said she researched the incident and found that other incidents have happened in the past, and schools need to send a stronger disciplinary message.
"If a student throws a chair in anger at the school, they're suspended or expelled," Henner said.
"You wouldn't expect a teacher to throw a chair but she gets to remain in the classrooms."
Florio responded to the reprimand in writing, and said she disagreed with much of the criticism she received from the Countryside High School Assistant principal, MaryBeth Williams.
In particular, Florio said the video is hardly definitive about what happened to the student's foot.
"The video shows that it was likely that it did not hit a student," Florio wrote, referring to the bouncing chair.
"I categorically deny hitting any student with any object."
Florio also commented that students who are disciplined by sports coaches do not get similar attention.
"It's interesting that football coaches all across the country can do far worse than anything I've ever done and yet it's considered 'tough love,'" Florio wrote.
"The arts teacher is thrown under the bus," said Florio.
Countryside High School noted that while Florio won't be fired or suspended, she could receive that punishment if she's involved in a similar incident in the future.
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