OAKLAND PARK — A charter-school teacher has been fired after school officials determined that she had an inappropriate relationship with a student.
The termination of Marcia Rolle, 25, of Hollywood, comes one week before hundreds of text messages between her and the student, Christopher Peterson, 19, of Tamarac, were scheduled to be released.
"We initiated our own independent investigation after the [Broward School] district's SIU [Special Investigations Unit] had closed theirs, and based on our investigation, which determined she did have a relationship with the student, we suspended her without pay on Aug. 25," said Andrew Kantor, an attorney who represents the school.
"After being suspended without pay in August, we contacted her to advise her of the results of our investigation, but she declined, and would not meet with us for a follow-up conference," said Kantor, an attorney with the Jacksonville-based Brennen, Manna, and Diamond law firm.
The firm represents White Hat Management, parent company of Life Skills Center of Broward County in Oakland Park. The school is privately owned, but receives funding from the Broward school district.
"She was terminated as a teacher for the Life Skills Center on Sept. 13," he said.
Rolle could not be reached for comment, and did not respond to emails or messages on her cell phone seeking comment. Peterson has changed his phone number, and did not answer questions sent to his Facebook page.
Rolle's husband, Wilson Rolle Jr., has filed for divorce. He obtained his wife's cell phone records from AT&T through subpoenas related to the divorce proceeding. The records show that Marcia Rolle and her student exchanged hundreds of text messages. Some of the messages were exchanged on weekends, nights and even during school hours.
"This is it. I'm through," her husband said after obtaining the phone records.
The records do not show the actual wording of the text messages, only the dates, times and durations of the exchanges.
Wilson Rolle has filed new subpoenas in the case, seeking to get Peterson's phone records and the actual language in the text messages from the phone companies that provide service to both his wife's and the student's cell phones.
"Those messages are going to show exactly what has been going on," Wilson Rolle said.
The issue first surfaced after Wilson Rolle filed complaints with Hollywood police, the charter school and the Broward school district on May 4, alleging that he caught his wife and the student in the couple's bedroom one night.
Hollywood police drop-ped their investigation after determining that the student was not a minor, and thus no law was broken.
In a May 20 letter to the Broward school district, Marcia Rolle said, "Allegations were made against me by my husband, Wilson Rolle Jr.; stating that I was involved with a student that attends Life Skills Center. These allegations were made to hurt me and are totally untrue. I am very familiar with the Life Skills Center Fraternization Policy, and have never and would never be involved in a relationship with a student."
Marcia Rolle told investigators that Peterson was a student in her classroom since August 2008, that she never had contact with him outside the school, and that there was always another teacher in the classroom, according to a June 5 report from school district investigator Gary Rowe, closing out that investigation.
Wilson Rolle, however, told the South Florida Times that he planted a recording device in the married couple's bedroom. The device, he said, captured the sounds of his wife and the student having sex.
Florida regulations prohibit teachers from having sexual relationships with students, regardless of their age. Such action, if proven, could result in the loss of state teaching certification.
The Florida Department of Education is continuing its investigation. But citing the state's confidentiality laws regarding investigations involving teachers, the agency declined comment about the status of its investigation.
A South Florida Times investigation, however, revealed that the student had an accident while driving the teacher's car on the night of Tuesday, July 21, raising doubts about the teacher's statements.
Marcia Rolle was hired as an English teacher at Life Skills Center of Broward County, an alternative charter school in Oakland Park, in August 2008. Her employment was based on a state-issued, temporary teaching certification.
School officials would not disclose the teacher's annual salary. They said they initiated their own investigation due to the seriousness of the allegations.
"You've seen problems in public schools across the country with teachers having inappropriate relationships with students. Our concern was for the integrity of the school and students," Kantor said.
"This type of activity is addressed already in regards to teachers having relationships with students outside school. This [her firing] is done in regards to the integrity of the school and addressing the needs of the students," Kantor said. "We appreciated Mr. Rolle bringing this to our attention, but we thought it was appropriate to corroborate his allegations."
Pictured above is Marcia Rolle.