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Rhonda Rice, Bartow Middle School teacher claims she licked the student and did not bite over pickle

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A Florida teacher is accused of biting two pupils over a jar of pickles, and she is charged with misdemeanor violence.

According to a Polk County Public Schools representative, the instructor, Rhonda Rice, admitted to “playing around with pupils” in front of school authorities.

“I think she needs to learn what she did and what she did was wrong,” said Kathy Toro, who said months passed without any action taken.

The fifteen-year-old nephew of Toro attends Bartow Middle School. She stated that Rice attempted to steal a jar of pickles while he and another student were working at the school store in October.

The jar was attempted to be taken back by her nephew and another pupil.

“She just bit them on the forearm and, of course, they released and she was able to get the pickles, but there’s other ways to do that,” said Toro.

School officials were informed by the pupils about the behavior, and they got in touch with Toro.

In November, Toro reported a crime to the Bartow police. Rice acknowledged licking the students, according to an affidavit submitted by Bartow police.

“Even if it was and she did lick him, but I don’t believe she did, it’s still not acceptable to me,” said Toro.

Rice has been accused of two counts of misdemeanor battery, according to the state attorney’s office and Bartow police. On March 31, she is scheduled to be arraigned.

She is no longer employed at Bartow Middle School in the meantime. She was given a paid administrative leave while a review was conducted.

Following the inquiry, Rice was given a three-day suspension and transferred to Sleepy Hill Middle School.

“Although she described her actions as playing around with students, we expect our employees to act professionally and serve as models of mature behavior. They must set a good example for students to follow, and anything less is unacceptable,” Polk County Public Schools spokesperson Jason Geary wrote in a statement.

Since 2000, Rice has worked as a teacher in the Polk County Public Schools system. Her personnel file lists these four prior disciplinary actions:

  • Sept. 2001, Boone Middle — verbal reprimand due to lack of effective preparation of materials on a timely basis
  • Dec. 2001, Boone Middle — letter of reprimand due to not preparing necessary materials and paperwork for ESE hearing
  • July 2008, Sleepy Hill Middle — one-day suspension due to excessive use of district-issued computer for personal business during times that should have been used for instructing/planning for classes
  • March 2015, Sleepy Hill Middle — verbal warning with a written confirmation for repeated failure to complete a scheduled IEP in a timely manner

The next court date is scheduled for November 23rd, 2022

Last known contact information

Address: 4579 Williamstown Blvd Lakeland, FL 33810
Phone: (863) 409-5308
Email: rhondarice29@gmail.com or prettyfull3@yahoo.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rhonda.m.rice.9

Court Information
Case #: 2022MM001211A000BA

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