Schools chief recommends teacher be fired for incidents involving Storm Grove Middle School students

VERO BEACH, Fla. - A former Storm Grove Middle School teacher is being recommended for unpaid suspension pending a termination hearing for a 2011 incident involving a child with autism during a field trip.

The incident came to light during an investigation into an altercation with a different student earlier this year.

Schools Superintendent Fran Adams initially recommended terminating Alan Seiden for "improper and aggressive physical and verbal actions" toward the Storm Grove student during an Oct. 13, 2011, field trip to Laporte Farms.

Adams said in a Sept. 24 letter to Seiden her recommendation was based on the incident and Seiden's disciplinary record. Seiden sent a letter to the district dated Oct. 2 requesting a hearing, according to the board's agenda.

The board is expected to vote on the superintendent's suspension recommendation at Tuesday's board meeting. In addition, the board must decide whether to preside over the termination hearing or send the matter to the Department of Administrative Hearings.

Neither Seiden, who has been a teacher in Indian River County for more than 10 years, nor his attorney, Thomas Johnson of Brandon, could be reached for comment.

It is the second time in a year that Seiden, who taught special needs students, has been brought to the board for disciplinary action. In April, Adams recommended an eight-day suspension without pay for Seiden for allegedly hitting a student in February. Adams said in an April 3 letter that Seiden inappropriately handled a student discipline matter by causing "serious escalation" of an incident.

Denise Roberts, executive director of Human Resources for the district, said allegations of the Oct. 13, 2011, incident surfaced near the conclusion of the investigation into the February incident. She said the incidents involved different students. No other incidents or additional students are expected to surface, she said.

"We have investigated quite in depth," Roberts said.

Similar language was used in the Sept. 24 letter Adams sent to Seiden concerning the 2011 incident. According to the letter, Seiden went with students from the autism program at Storm Grove to LaPorte Farms.

"During the field trip, you inappropriately handled (the student's) behavior, which caused a significant escalation of the matter, by engaging in improper and aggressive physical and verbal actions toward (the student)," the letter states.

Seiden was placed on alternative assignment away from students in April, said Roberts. He began the school year at Oslo Middle School, but was removed from contact with students in September, she said.

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