MARION COUNTY, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – A North Marion High School educator was recently suspended in light of accusations of inappropriate conduct with a female student.
Educator Jonathan Hampton was accused by the parents of the unnamed student of touching her with a banana. The complaint came nearly three months after the incident reportedly occurred. The allegations led to an investigation by district officials.
A disciplinary action letter obtained by CBS affiliate WKMG-TV states that Hampton was accused specifically of rubbing “a student’s head and neck area with a banana” while lecturing students about “cylinder objects, phalluses and/or sex symbols.”
One district spokesperson additionally told the station that the class was discussing Freudian psychology at the time of the touching incident. Though the subject matter was approved by the district, the touching was not.
Hampton’s family, including stepfather Mark Fiedelholtz, came to his defense.
“Upon a full investigation by the Marion County Public School District they found no evidence of sexual connotation or [intentionally] touching the student against her will or to physically hurt the student in any way,” Fiedelholtz, who is also a lawyer, was quoted as saying. “Despite the fact that my son has proved himself as a caring, respectful and competent teacher that is loved by thousands of students and parents, the Marion County School District decided to allow my step-son’s hard-earned reputation to be tossed in the garbage can based on the testimony of a father who may have had issues with the school before and other teenagers taken three months after the incident.”
He asserted that Hampton is back to teaching, adding, “Jonathan was reinstated back in the classroom after serving his suspension.”
However, district representatives said other students also complained about the class and Hampton’s teaching methods, adding that they felt he crossed lines of propriety with “excessive frequency, causing discomfort to many … students.”
Additionally, parents who spoke with WKMG were outraged by the nature of the allegations against the former Teacher of the Year, and questioned whether Hampton’s position should have been reinstated.
“What was going through his mind when he did something like that?” Brenda Bewley, a parent at the school, wondered.
Added student grandmother Dale Johnson, “That is disgusting, very disgusting. I don’t think he should be allowed to teach kids. You don’t do stuff like that and get away with it.”