Pinellas Co. principal quits after multiple sexual harassment allegations

At least one teacher, who had been at the school for 17 years, said she resigned because of the harassment.

A Pinellas County principal resigned as several teachers accused him of making sexually harassing comments, according to documents released by the school district.

Anthony P. Francois, who turned 50 on Monday, was principal of Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School in Largo until he resigned Tuesday.

Documents released by the district detail a series of crude comments to and about teachers at the school.

Loading ...

At least one teacher, who had been at the school for 17 years, said she resigned because of the harassment by Francois.

Five of the comments had been backed up by witnesses or video before the investigation was stopped by Francois' resignation, the documents showed.

Among the comments that were allegedly confirmed:

  • After a fire drill, Francois told a teacher, "Hey, why don't you walk ahead of me so I can check you out from behind." He then added: "This is not sexual harassment 'cause I'm just playing, ha-ha."
  • A teacher said he sat down next to her and said, "You know, I can see straight down your shirt. When she started buttoning up her sweater, he asked, "What are you doing that for? ... You don't have to do all that, I just won't look."
  • Concerning another teacher, he said, "I'd like to get me some of that."

Among the unconfirmed incidents detailed in the documents:

  • While a teacher was in his office, Francois used obscene language during a phone call to his wife. When it was over, he allegedly told the teacher, "Why don't you go out the side door so I can look at your calves."
  • While talking to the same teacher in her classroom, he allegedly told her to bend over so he could get a better look at her breasts.
  • Another teacher said Francois put his arm around her waist and side in a way that made her uncomfortable.

In an email to a school official, Francois said his comments were "locker room talk" and not meant to demean or make anyone uncomfortable.

The school district released the following statement Monday evening.

"Pinellas County Schools Office of Professional Standards worked quickly and thoroughly to investigate the allegations against Mr. Francois. During the investigation, he chose to resign. Mr. Francois is ineligible for rehire and the district will provide the complete findings of the investigation to the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Professional Practice Services. The district is working quickly to identify a new principal to ensure continued momentum at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School."

Loading ...

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the 10 News app now.

Have a news tip? Email, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed.