SARASOTA — Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Todd Bowden is seeking the firing of Chief Operating Officer Jeff Maultsby after a report of sexual harassment allegations. 

The announcement came 10 days after the School Board received the report from a Fort Myers firm that slammed Maultsby's behavior — along with Bowden's response to the complaint. 

On Monday, Bowden said he was ready to fire Maultsby.

Bowden told Maultsby the school district intends to terminate his contract, according to a news release from the district. Maultsby has about two weeks to respond and/or appeal the decision.

Bowden is going to talk with the School Board about the decision Nov. 5. That meeting will follow a special meeting at noon that day that board members scheduled to discuss Bowden's response to the original allegation of sexual harassment from a district worker. 

The meeting and Bowden's statement follow a study by Sproat Workplace Investigations from Cheraina Bonner against Maultsby. 

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

Bowden has been the target of angst from the report, which took him to task for his handling of the incident. Bowden, in the news release, takes ownership of wanting to fire Maultsby.  

“After reviewing the entirety of the text messages exchanged between Mr. Maultsby and Ms. Bonner, and the transcripts and exhibits from each interview conducted by Ms. Sproat, it is clear Mr. Maultsby behaved inappropriately, and his actions are unbefitting of a school district employee," the news release states. 

"Regarding allegations made against me and Mr. Al Harayda, it is not appropriate for me to comment on the contents of the report prior to the special meeting of the Board," he wrote. "I will share in advance, however, that I disagree with the report findings and several conclusions made by Ms. Sproat."

He said he will be "delivering a full response to School Board members next week. I regret that Ms. Bonner has to wait even longer for resolution to the complaints, and I appreciate her patience and fortitude throughout this process, and I hope our employees can continue to do what we do best — educate and inspire our children.”

School board member Eric Robinson agreed with that conclusion. He also viewed some actions taken were retaliatory against the victim.

"You can't create policies that legislate common sense," Robinson said Monday. However, Robinson predicted none of this will affect Bowen and he will get a raise, bonus and "perfect evaluation" from the school board. 

Bowden has received favorable reports from three School Board members. It would take a super majority of four board members to fire the school superintendent.

School Board member Shirley Brown, who has supported Bowden, said Monday she has reached no conclusion yet and described herself as working her way through the numerous emails, reports and other materials relating to the allegations.

"We needed it in writing to take action," Brown said, citing how Bonner was initially hesitant to file a formal complaint.

The School Board meets at noon Nov. 5 in a special session requested by School Board members, and then at 6:30 p.m. for a regular session. 

Staff writer Steve Reilly contributed to this story.


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