Pierce Middle School teacher Ingrid Peavy blamed for special needs student's 6-mile walk home

7:26 AM, Mar 29, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - A Hillsborough County teacher for special needs students may be one step closer to being fired next Tuesday, when the school board will discuss if she should first be suspended without pay.

"We concluded that though there was a plan in place, the teacher did not follow the plan, and on Tuesday we will recommend suspension without pay, with the next step being to terminate," says Steve Hegarty, spokesperson for the Hillsborough School District.

The teacher is 33-year-old Ingrid Peavy of Pierce Middle School, and she faces these consequences after a special needs student went temporarily missing under her watch last fall.

According to school district officials, Peavy knew the student had a history of leaving campus, and on October 29, he did just that -- walking a total of six miles home. 

The student likely walked along N. Hesperides Street or W. Hillsborough Avenue, both heavily traveled roads.

"We have a responsibility to supervise those kids. This is especially egregious, because we knew there was a history here, and we had a plan in place," says Hegarty.

In a letter to Peavy, district officials say she was "fully informed, prepared" and had "received and saved the document outlining the action plan."

Peavy reportedly received that action plan on October 22... just one week earlier, and on the same day 11-year-old Jennifer Caballero, a student with Down syndrome at Rodgers Middle School, walked off campus and drowned in a nearby pond

The district disciplined four educators for inadequate supervision.

That incident brought attention to other cases involving the district's care of special needs students. 

In October a bus driver was charged with aggravated child abuse after a bus video shows the woman, 41-year-old Stephanie Wilkerson, kicking an 8-year-old autistic student off the bus, causing the girl to break her fibula.

And a lawsuit against the district comes from 7-year-old Isabella Herrera's family, who says their daughter suffocated to death when her wheelchair was not properly secured on a school bus in January. The bus staff did not call 911 or perform CPR, leaving her mother to be the first one to call for help.

Some parents at Pierce Middle School say Peavy should be disciplined, and some think she should be given a second chance.

"She failed partially, but you can't blame it all on her," says one parent.

Another parent says, "She needs to put more attention on the job. These kids have less capabilities than a normal kid." 

10 News reached out to Ingrid Peavy, but she says her attorney advises her not to comment. 

Hillsborough school district officials have spent the last five months reviewing its teacher training and safety procedures for special needs students and making changes, but they say much more needs to be done.

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