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Saturday, Oct 21, 2017
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Plant City charter school principal with multiple DUIs steps down

TAMPA - A charter school principal with a history of drunken driving arrests has resigned, and the operators of the school will change a key part of their hiring process in the wake of a Tampa Tribune investigation. Todd Haughey resigned his job at Advantage Academy of Hillsborough after it was learned he had four DUI convictions in Indiana and Ohio between 1987 and 2002. Those legal problems were discovered by the Tribune after the 44-year-old's arrest this month in St. Petersburg on a drunken driving charge. Haughey had been suspended from the Plant City elementary and middle school as the board of directors investigated a rash of alcohol-related incidents in his past. The board and Charter School Associates, operator of the school, say they were unaware of the incidents until a reporter inquired about them.
"It's disheartening to find out something like that," said Charles Harris, a member of the board of directors of the school that has about 500 students. Mike Strader, president of Charter School Associates, said the principal resigned during a Wednesday evening telephone conversation. "He said he was sorry for the embarrassment," Strader said. "He appreciated the opportunity he had been given and he felt it was best he resign his position." From now on, the operator of the charter school will change the forms it gives prospective employees to fill out. Charter schools are privately run but publicly funded. Current forms ask applicants if they have been convicted of a crime in the past seven years. People applying for a job in the Hillsborough County School District, meanwhile, are asked if they have ever been convicted of a crime. Because Haughey's multiple DUIs were more than a decade ago, he did not have to admit to them on the application. "We're definitely going to remove the seven-year term on there and leave it open with no time frame," Strader said.

rshaw@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7999

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