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Sarasota County School Board to vote next month whether to suspend or fire superintendent

Posted at 6:30 PM, Nov 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-05 23:10:55-05

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Sarasota County School Board will decide the fate of its superintendent next month.

On Tuesday, the school board passed a motion to decide on December 10 whether to terminate or suspend without pay superintendent Dr. Todd Bowden. The school board had to give Dr. Bowden at least a 30-day notice before placing a vote.

"His termination won’t heal me. It won’t do anything. His termination for me brings back the professionalism that we need in Sarasota County," said Cheraina Bonner.

Dr. Bowden is at the center of controversy following complaints that the school district did not take action sooner when they found out an employee was being harassed by her directed supervisor, assistant superintendent Jeff Maultsby.

Cheraina Bonner made a complaint against Maultsby for sexual harassment and retaliation.

An independent investigation found some of the evidence comes from the 831 text messages exchanged between Maultsby and Bonner. The text messages were exchanged on their personal phones during the time period of July 9,2018 and April 5, 2019.

Bonner did not have a district assigned cell phone so she received all of his texts on her personal cell phone.

Bonner said in the beginning, his texts made her feel "uncomfortable," but she dismissed the feeling.

"We do have a strong case. Sexual harassment is a hard case when it’s he said, she said, but this is 800 text messages and witnesses," said attorney Sara Blackwell.

The independent investigation found sufficient evidence concluding that Maultsby sexually harassed Bonner and he created a hostile work environment. The investigation also found he threatened to retaliate against Bonner for reporting her concerns.

"Again, my bottom line is to make sure that in Sarasota County School District that this doesn’t happen to anyone," said Bonner.

Bonner has filed a civil lawsuit against the school board. On Tuesday, Bonner's attorney told board members they would agree to settle for $500,000. She gave them a deadline of November 13.

RELATED: Sarasota County assistant superintendent resigns amid sexual harassment investigation

A district spokesperson said officials are reviewing the lawsuit and will provide a comment at a later date.