Assistant principal says he is scapegoat for ESE student death

Shawn Livingston fights to keep job

TAMPA - "My goal here is to make the public aware of the truth of the events and to make sure I have a voice in making sure that this never happens to another family," said Shawn Livingston.

Assistant Principal Livingston has a wife, children, but is doubtful he still has a bright career as an educator.

"When I was told what the charges were going to be, I was very, very, very, very, very taken aback," said Livingston.

Livingston says he had just been promoted to assistant principal at Rodgers Middle School two months before an ESE student, 11-year-old Jenny Caballero, wandered away from her gym class and drowned in a pond. The Superintendent fired an attendant and an aide Wednesday and recommended the school board demote Livingston.  

"I don't hold him directly responsible for the incident that resulted in the death of a student. However, he made a mistake, and these are the consequences," said Superintendent Mary Ellen Elia.

Jenny's gym coach claims he went to Livingston with safety concerns about the ESE aides and attendants not supervising students properly. Now Livingston is speaking out, saying that's not true.

"Coach Gawrych, who has since retired, and may, or may not have been reprimanded, never at any point in time discussed any concern about the aides and never asked me for help. I repeat, he never discussed any concern of about the aides with me in regards to safety, supervision, or inattentiveness," he said.

His attorney says they've requested an evidentiary hearing in front of the school board and Livingston will fight to keep his job.

"He wants to have his name cleared. He doesn't want to have his name to be forever linked with the unfortunate death of a child and some indication," said attorney Robert McKee.

Livingston tells us if he had his choice he would remain at Rodgers Middle where he says he was a proactive assistant principal, where he misses his students.

"Anything that's going to be best for children -- that's all I care about," he said.

On Tuesday, the School Board will vote on Elia's recommendation to demote Livingston. If they vote yes, he would become a teacher again.  He is currently on paid leave from his job.

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