Officials: Middle School Kids Paid Teacher $1 A Day To Skip Gym Class
POSTED: 12:33 pm EST February 16, 2006
PENSACOLA, Fla. -- An Escambia County middle school gym teacher let children sit out his class if they paid a $1 bribe daily, netting him perhaps thousands of dollars, officials said Thursday.
Authorities said students paid Terence Braxton, 28, of Atmore, Ala., between September and December. He has apparently left the area and is being sought by detectives, who plan to arrest him on bribery charges.
"It's not bad if you can make an extra $100 a day tax free," said Ronnie Arnold, spokesman for the Escambia County School District.
Arnold said Ward Middle School principal Nancy Gindl-Perry learned of the scheme from a parent and began her own investigation in December. She then contacted authorities and placed Braxton on administrative leave. Braxton resigned before the school board was scheduled to vote to fire him at a January meeting.
"Just when you think you've seen it all," Arnold said.
Between the time Braxton resigned and the arrest warrant was issued earlier this month, Braxton taught some classes as a substitute teacher at the Atmore School District in Alabama, Arnold said. That district removed Braxton from its substitute list after Florida officials notified administrators of Braxton's history, Arnold said.
Mike Ward, spokesman for the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, said six students have pursued charges against Braxton, but many more students are believed to have paid him to get out gym class.
"One of the kids said something to their parents and the parents said something to the principal and the principal started interviewing his classes and everybody was like 'Yeah, I paid and I paid,"' Ward said.
The official charges accuse Ward of taking about $230 from the six students, but Ward said Braxton's actual take from the 250 sixth-to-eighth-grade boys and girls was girls was likely much greater.
District officials have reported the allegations to the Florida Department of Education Professional Practices Commission, which could revoke Braxton's teaching certificate if he's found guilty of the charges.