Students, parents protest Fivay; lawsuits pending

9:55 PM, Apr 2, 2013   |    comments
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HUDSON, Florida - Everyone, including Sarah Ibanez, knew she was having a bad day. Even she admits she wishes things would have turned out differently.

It was a day she, along with many others, will never forget.

Today, students showed up in support of Sarah as they protested Fivay High School, a plagued Pasco campus with a history of problems. Fivay has made countless headlines in recent months, with accusations of everything from students videotaping sex on campus to severe cases of bullying.

Today's protest centered around one particular incident.

Sarah, a 16-year-old junior at Fivay, was crying while visiting with her buddies on Friday, March 22 as the kids hung out on campus during lunch period. Her peers also tell 10 News that she has, in fact, been suffering from emotional problems. That's when the incident happened.

Sarah and her parents claim she was roughed up by the school resource officer at Fivay and physically abused. Her parents have hired an attorney and say they plan to sue the district.

"She was just having a hard time, that's all. We were trying to help her," said her friend, Taylor Moore-Sanders. "She just needed a little more time to collect herself and relax. That was it, she needed time."

"He started choking me," Sarah told 10 News. "He threw handcuffs on me after he shoved me against the wall. I kind of blacked out."

Witnesses say they were shocked when they say Sarah was thrown against the wall three times at Fivay by Pasco Deupty Richard Bynum. Her friends and family claim it left her hospitalized with a concussion. She claims she has nerve damage, along with bruises. Her parents say she also suffers dizzy spells and has to see a neurologist.

"I started freaking out," Sarah said. "I eventually gave up."

It all started, her buddies say, when they were told to "move along" while sitting and hanging out on campus.

"They just wanted a few more minutes to move. That's all," claimed Taylor. "They were moving, but it took them a few minutes. The corporal got mad."

Witnesses say Sarah punched the wall out of frustration.

But, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office told a different story. A spokesperson claimed Sarah wasn't even supposed to be on campus, that she had been suspended, and the deputy was trying to remove her. The Pasco spokesperson also claimed marijuana was found in Sarah's backpack.

The sheriff's office has recommended four misdemeanor charges to the State Attorney's Office. It is not known if charges will be filed against Sarah.

Still, parents say they are extremely angry and frustrated that the deputy "put their hands" on the teen. "She was unarmed," said Mike Lasater, Sarah's stepfather. "It didn't need to go that far. We teach our kids respect, and no one respects these kids, especially the principal."

Angie Stone, a longtime educator, is the principal at Fivay High School. Parents say she isn't leading the school correctly or effectively. "Kids are scared," parents told 10 News. "Some are pulling their children out of class. The students don't want to go back there. They say it's a prison."

In past evaluations, Stone has received a rating of "effective," although her current files from the past two years are confidential.

10 News has received countless letters and phone calls from concerned parents about Stone, so we have repeatedly asked for a response from the Pasco County School Board. We were told today, despite the numerous concerns from parents, that no one from the district, nor the principal would grant an interview or take any questions.

"We will not be commenting on this story," said school spokeswoman Linda Cobbe.

One of the questions 10 News has, in addition to the allegations of ineffective leadership by the principal, deals with accusations of "excessive force" by the deputy against Sarah.

Friends say the deputy got physical with the female teen, who is 5'2", weighing roughly one hundred pounds.

"He didn't need to do that. She's little, he's huge. It was uncalled for," said Sarah's friend. "He didn't have to use force."

The Pasco deputy, a four-year veteran of the force, told a completely different story. He claimed Sarah was beating her head against the wall and the ground, and that he had to restrain her to save her life and possibly the lives of others. The Pasco Sheriff's Office told 10 News the teen was a danger to herself and she needed help.

Sarah was Baker-acted and taken to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. The Pasco County School District claims Sarah was out of control and needed to be stopped, and that she was possibly on drugs.

Sarah's mother, Maria Lasater, said her daughter has never caused any problems at school, but does admit the teen has had emotional problems. It was incredibly upsetting, Sarah's parents say, when they got the call.

"I began screaming," said Sarah's mother. "I couldn't believe it.  My daughter is now in the hospital. I can't believe this happened. What is going on at that school?"

"It's awful here," said one student. "I'm scared to go to school. Our principal, Mrs. Stone, doesn't do anything to protect us. We aren't safe at school."

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