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Maultsby

SARASOTA — The chief operating officer for the Sarasota County School District has resigned, shortly after the superintendent said he wanted to fire him over sexual harassment allegations.

Jeffrey Maultsby resigned Monday, members of the Sarasota County School Board confirmed Tuesday evening.

His resignation came the same day his boss, superintendent Todd Bowden, informed school board members that he intended to terminate Maultsby’s contract.

But Maultsby quit before the superintendent did that.

“I was shocked that he resigned before Todd gave him (official) notice,” said Eric Robinson, a member of the Sarasota County School Board.

He said he believed Maultsby resigned rather than be fired.

Maultsby quit 10 days after the board received the report from a Fort Myers firm that took him to task for his behavior toward his assistant, Cheraina Bonner.

“There is sufficient evidence to conclude that Jeff Maultsby sexually harassed Cheraina Bonner and that he created a hostile work environment,” the report by Sproat Workplace Investigations states.

“The evidence and the findings, especially when viewed collectively, support the conclusion that Maultsby used sexually abusive and vulgar language and engaged in verbal, visual and physical conduct toward Bonner that unreasonably interfered with her work performance and which also created an intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment.”

The report shows Maultsby threatened to retaliate against Bonner when she told him she planned to report his misconduct.

Maultsby uttered the phrase, “snitches get stitches,” and would later repeat the threat in a text message, which included a link to a New York Times story about the killing of a whistleblower.

The report states it is “reasonable for Bonner to become more concerned about her safety” after Maultsby knew she had complained to Bowden about him.

The report was also critical of Bowden’s response to the complaint against one of his top administrators.

“There is sufficient evidence to conclude that Dr. Todd Bowden’s actions played a primary role in the District’s failure to promptly and adequately address Bonner’s claims of sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation and threatening behavior,” the report states.

The School Board meets at noon Nov. 5 in a special session requested by School Board members to discuss the contents of the Sproat report, and then at 6:30 p.m. for a regular session.

Staff writer Steve Reilly contributed to this story.

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