Florida teacher disciplined for explicit photo returns to work
Damian Wilson back in classroom at Heritage High School in Palm Bay
PALM BAY, Fla. – A Heritage High School teacher who showed a picture of a nude man to students last month has returned to work after a two-week suspension.
Social studies teacher Damian Wilson was projecting cellphone pictures onto a screen in his classroom, and while flipping through the photos, scrolled too far — projecting an explicit picture of male genitalia.
Wilson had used his phone to take pictures of food crumbs students had left in his classroom, in an attempt to show students how messy they were leaving it, Local 6 News partner Florida Today reported.
"It was, at most, on the screen for three seconds," Wilson wrote in a statement included in Brevard Public School's internal investigatory file. "I was so embarrassed and sad. The (sic) was a mistake and there was no intent."
He could not be reached late Wednesday for further comment.
Wilson was suspended without pay from March 31 through April 11. In addition, he will not receive any salary increases this school year. Wilson makes about $41,000 a year.
In a March 31 disciplinary letter, district leaders told Wilson they would pursue termination if a similar incident occurs again.
"This disturbing photo was observed by several students," the letter says. "Student statements further indicate that you asked the students not to tell anyone what had occurred, and that you sat at your desk, crying on your computer."
Students from the class submitted written statements. Some said they were not paying attention when the photo was displayed. It remains unclear whether the picture was of the teacher.
"I didn't see anything on the screen when whatever happened, happened," one student wrote. "It was a mixed feeling through. The classroom, some were laughing, some were shocked. About half of us didn't even know what happened."
Local police were contacted, but it was determined the incident was not criminal in nature.
Wilson is continuing to work as a contract teacher, but is not assigned to a regular class for the remainder of this school year. He will fill in for teacher absences, similar to a substitute teacher.
For next school year, he will be reassigned to a regular social studies teaching position at a school where there's an appropriate opening. It's unclear where that might be.
Wilson teaches government and history at Heritage High in Palm Bay. Previously, he taught at Palm Bay High.
Before joining the school district in 2006, Wilson worked in government and state politics, including a stint as former Rep. Mitch Needelman's senior legislative assistant.
He's also served on various West Melbourne boards, such as planning and zoning. He ran unsuccessfully for city council in 2008.
"Mr. Wilson does an outstanding job in working to make sure our students receive a superb, all-around education," according to his 2009-10 job evaluation.
In 2008, Wilson received a letter of reprimand for not seeking approval before signing a fundraising agreement for the law academy.
Ryan is at 321-242-3664 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Mackenzie_Ryan.
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