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Former Alachua County teacher gets deferred prosecution

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Glen Nichol, Alachua County Teacher of the Year for 2012, is no longer employed by the public school board following a sworn complaint for inappropriately touching at least one of his students at Lawton Chiles Elementary School in Gainesville.

“We received a complaint from a parent at the end of April in 2012, and we immediately removed Mr. Nichol from the classroom and contacted law enforcement for them to begin an investigation,” said Jackie Johnson, spokeswoman for Alachua County Public Schools.

Nichol was moved from his job as a fifth grade teacher into an office job, away from children.

“This was a job that did not involve working with students and did not involve working in the schools; (he was) doing some technology work,” Johnson said.

Nichol agreed to the terms of a deferred prosecution agreement, in which a 24- to 36- month term is not unusual in most felony cases, said Nichol’s attorney, Gilbert A. Schaffnit.

“Once the case is dismissed, this agreement contemplates that unless there’s a violation, that Mr. Nichol would not appear in front of the court, would not have to make any admissions of guilt, would not be adjudicated guilty, and so if he successfully completes the agreement, he will not be a convicted felon and will not have an adjudication of guilt on his record,” Schaffnit said.

He said a deferred prosecution is a contract between the state attorney’s office and the accused. It states that in exchange for doing the things called for in the contract, which would include giving up his teaching license, at the end of the term, the state would file dismissal of the charges.

“The advantage for everyone is that it brings closure to the case,” Schaffnit said. “It allows everyone to go on with their life and not run the risks of engaging in litigation and the uncertainty and the expense and the emotional trauma of going through a trial.”

Johnson said the privacy of students and employees remain on the forefront of importance to the public schools.

“Under state law, we have to protect the privacy of both students and employees,” Johnson said. “And keep in mind, this was an active law enforcement investigation. They have their own process for conducting an investigation. We don’t interfere with that.”

The school board has ongoing checks on teachers to keep issues like this from falling through the cracks.

“Under Florida law, we receive notifications from law enforcement any time any employee has been arrested,” she said. “That is part of state law, but obviously in this case, we were the ones who reported it to law enforcement when we received the complaint.”

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