Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ex-Principal's Career on Line Hearing to Decide Trawick's Fate

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ex-Principal's Career on Line Hearing to Decide Trawick's Fate

Article excerpt

Former Forrest High School Principal Emory Trawick's personnel

file offers radically different views of the longtime

Jacksonville educator.

One view portrays Trawick as a principal who sexually harassed

female employees behind closed doors at two schools, touching

them against their will and making sexually suggestive comments.

The other view is of a school leader who was widely respected

by teachers, staff members and parents -- an educator whom

School Board member Billy Parker described last week as

"probably one of the top three secondary [school] principals in

Duval County."

Almost a year after being removed from Forrest because of

sexual harassment complaints filed by four teachers, Trawick

will go before a state hearing officer this week with his career

in the balance.

He will face allegations that he harassed the four teachers --

along with three other employees who later brought charges --

during a six-year period when he was principal at Forrest and

Sandalwood highs.

The hearing officer will make recommendations to the School

Board and a state panel that reviews charges against educators.

If he loses, Trawick could be fired from the Duval County system

and see his state teaching certificate suspended or revoked.

Trawick, 49, declined comment Friday, though he told

investigators last year that the complaints stemmed from

employees who were angry at him for disciplinary reasons or

because he had added to their workloads.

The school system has not released the names of the employees,

identifying them only by initials and numbers. The employees are

six teachers and a food-service manager.

David Hertz, a Duval Teachers United attorney who has

represented the first four teachers in the case, said if Trawick

is found guilty of the charges, he should lose his job and his

teaching certificate. Hertz described the case as involving a

"continuous pattern" of sexual harassment.

"I believe my clients are correct," Hertz said. "I believe

everything they say."

But Trawick has received an outpouring of support from former

employees and parents since he was removed as Forrest principal

last October. Among other things, about 80 letters were filed on

his behalf with the school system.

Steve Ivey, a parent and member of Forrest's School Advisory

Council when Trawick worked at the Westside school, said last

week he thinks the school system has given Trawick a "raw deal,"

though he acknowledged he doesn't have detailed information

about the complaints.

"My experience with Emory Trawick has been one of high

integrity, outstanding character, a pleasure to work with, a

strong disciplinarian," Ivey said.

The hearing, before an officer from the state Division of

Administrative Hearings, is scheduled to start at 9 a.m.

tomorrow in City Hall. School Board attorney Ernst Mueller said

the hearing is expected to be finished within three days. …

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