Student Pays High Price for Reporting Teacher’s Misconduct

Tampa Bay Times investigation finds questionable actions by school officials in handling complaint, and raises concerns about loopholes for holding misbehaving teachers accountable (EWA Radio Episode 275)

Madisyn Slater (photo: Arielle Bader/Tampa Bay Times)


For Madisyn Slater, a senior at Blake High School in Tampa, Florida, there was little question that popular biology teacher Tiffany Johnson crossed the line with students. Slater’s decision to report Johnson’s sexual comments and other inappropriate behavior led to the student  – not the teacher — facing a school district investigation. Bethany Barnes of The Tampa Bay Times shares how she used an extensive digital paper trail to tell the story, and to take readers deep inside the lives of Slater and other students who weighed in on Johnson’s case. What was the fallout for Slater’s personal relationships and school life? And how did Barnes’ reporting change the trajectory of the district’s response? Also, Barnes offers ideas for keeping big projects organized and provides tips for making the most of open records requests.

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