SARASOTA- Sarasota’s Teachers union is hoping humor gets people to pay attention to harassment and retaliation allegations against top administrators at the school district. “Don’t Hire Teachers in a Strip Club,” Sarasota Classified Teachers Association is using their signs to take shots at the Superintendent.

“We’re having fun with this sometimes,” Gardner says.

The sign reference Bowden’s admission during a retaliation lawsuit deposition that he visited a strip club with other administrators while attending a conference in Denver. SCTA President Pat Gardner hope it draws attention.

“They don’t know what’s going on all the time,” Gardner said. “That’s why we feel we should be letting people know. I don’t think anyone knows what that means out there, but we do and that hopefully gets somebodies interest so they look into it and see what’s going on.”

On November 5th the school board will hold a special meeting in response to an external investigation that concluded Bowden ignored complaints of sexual harassment, that Cheraina Bonner brought against district COO Jeff Maultsby.

“Now I’ll be curious to see at the Special meeting,” Gardner said. “If we have any board members that try to blame the victim, that I’m going to watch for, I’m going to tell all my folks all 4000 of them to watch that video, watch the TV and see if you hear any of that.”

Gardner says even before the lawsuits and investigations filed this year, climate surveys showed staff feared coming forward.

“This says do you feel that this is a school district where you could file a complaint without fear of retaliation,” Gardner said. “And almost 70% already said no.”

And Gardner says if money is continued to be spent on legal fees and settlements there will be less for students.

“All this money is going everywhere,” Gardner said. “But guess where, classrooms, that’s the said part about all this, nobody’s talking about classrooms, our kids, safety, security, nobody’s talking about that, everybody is talking about this.”  

The School District cannot comment on the external investigation for 10 days after the report was released. That would be October 28th.