Sheriff's deputy to take leave after clash at High Springs school
Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 10:55 p.m.
An Alachua County sheriff's deputy agreed to take a leave of absence for a year after High Springs school officials said he became involved in an altercation at the elementary school last year.
Officials at the High Springs Community School contacted the Sheriff's Office in November after they said Deputy Ricky Robinson became angry at employees after his son was suspended for fighting, according to a report from the law enforcement agency.
Sheriff Sadie Darnell met with Robinson in early January and, in lieu of termination, the officer agreed to a year's leave of absence followed by a year of disciplinary probation, a memo dated Jan. 16 stated.
Robinson also agreed to participate in a counseling program and not to go to his children's schools unless asked to by school personnel. Before returning to duty, he must complete a "fitness for duty" evaluation and any additional background investigation that may be required. If he fails to meet the agreement's conditions, it could void the agreement, according to the Sheriff's Office.
In an interview with Sheriff's Office personnel afterward, Robinson indicated he felt school staff members were picking on his child and that he and his wife had experienced problems with them in the past.
The officer said he and his wife are not "yes parents" and he investigates issues involving his children.
"My job is to take care of my kids first and see what's going on with them," Robinson said according to the Sheriff's Office report.
Robinson could not be reached Tuesday.
School employees contacted the Sheriff's Office after the incident on Nov. 15, 2007.
A dean at the school phoned Robinson to tell him his son had been disciplined per School Board protocol, a Sheriff's Office report stated. The officer became angry and insisted on meeting immediately with the employee.
Robinson arrived at the school in uniform and in his marked patrol vehicle and appeared angry, the report quoted witnesses as saying. He became confrontational with a guidance counselor, Assistant Principal for Administration Eva Copeland told deputies, and "was nose-to-nose, toe-to-toe" with the employee. When Copeland gave Robinson a copy of the school's civility clause, he told her he "didn't need this" and threw it away, she reported.
Another school employee said she felt Robinson was using his position as a deputy to intimidate school staff.
Copeland provided the Sheriff's Office with a written statement that said this was the third encounter with the deputy regarding his children and all had gone the same way.
"Mr. Robinson is confrontational and feels protocols we have in place to safeguard our students are not protocols he needs to follow. This is unacceptable behavior for any adult, much less a deputy, to exhibit on our campus," she wrote.
School officials did not want to comment about the incident Tuesday, said Alachua County school district spokeswoman Jackie Johnson.
Robinson started as a deputy in the Sheriff's Office in 2002, the agency reported.
Lise Fisher can be reached at 352-374-5092 or email@example.com.
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