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Hernando schools superintendent seeks protection from neighbor she accuses of harassment

SPRING HILL — Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano will appear in court this month after filing for a restraining order against her neighbor, who she said has stalked and harassed her since last summer.

In a court filing, Romano brings a long list of accusations against 45-year-old Italia Carolina Lainez, who lives across the street from her in the gated Pristine Place subdivision off Elgin Boulevard. She said the woman has videotaped her and her family repeatedly and once tried to drive into her head-on while she was driving through the neighborhood, running her car off the road.

"The stalking, harassment and threats (against) myself and family members appear to be escalating, and I am fearful that she may harm us," Romano wrote in the case filing. "I am fearful for my safety and the safety of my family members."

Records indicate that Lainez has a history of altercations with multiple School District employees. She declined the Tampa Bay Times’ request for comment Tuesday, saying she would prefer the case play out in court.

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According to Romano’s court filing, the trouble with her neighbor began in July, when Romano said Lainez began "exhibiting strange and threatening behavior," like yelling profanities and displaying her middle finger at her as she left her house to go to work.

On Aug. 17, it happened in front of Romano’s 8-year-old daughter, the superintendent said. She called the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office to file a report, which is included in the case filing.

Later that month, Romano reported that Lainez videotaped her husband and neighbor, who were sitting together in the neighbor’s driveway. In October, the court filing said, Lainez walked back-and-forth in front of Romano’s home, where she and her family were sitting in the driveway, singing the children’s song "She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain."

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More than once in November, the court filing said, Lainez brought her dog to the corner of Romano’s driveway, near where the superintendent and her husband were sitting, and let it urinate there.

On Nov. 13, Lainez took photos of Romano’s daughter walking her own dog. Three days later, Lainez tried to hit Romano’s car head-on when she was driving through the neighborhood, running her off the road, the court filing said.

Romano called the Sheriff’s Office about Lainez’s behavior on Dec. 1, then again the next day, when she said Lainez screamed profanities — including "I’ll f*** you all up anytime"— at her husband, who was standing in the front yard, according to the court filing.

School district records included in the filing show Lainez has had similar encounters with other district employees. Most recently, it was her daughter’s school bus driver. She called the driver profane names during a disagreement about route times in September, according to district records.

"You’re lucky it’s against the law ... I will choke you, you old hag," she said, according to a transcript of a video recording of the incident. "I’ll choke you so bad. No one had put you in your place. I’m going to be the one."

A year prior, Lainez was banned by the Sheriff’s Office from her daughter’s school, Chocachatti Elementary, at the request of assistant principal Sarah Trowell. According to a report by the agency, Trowell said the decision was "due to disruption (Lainez’s) behavior has brought to staff and students alike."

A few months after the trespass notice, which barred Lainez from entering buildings at the school, Trowell called the Sheriff’s Office to expand enforcement. Since March, Lainez has been banned from the entire Chocachatti campus, records show.

If the court grants Romano a temporary injunction for protection against her neighbor, Lainez will be prohibited from coming within 500 feet of Romano as well as her home, family and workplace at the School District office in Brooksville. She also will be barred from contacting Romano by telephone, mail, email or through another person, and will not be allowed within 100 feet of Romano’s vehicle.

The hearing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 25 at the Hernando County Courthouse, 20 N. Main St. in Brooksville.

Contact Megan Reeves at [email protected] Follow @mareevs.

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