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Teacher watched porn as students took test

Rob Shaw, Tampa Tribune, Fla. –

TAMPA — While the sixth-grade geography students were focused on a test, they say their teacher had his back to them, headphones plugged into his cell phone while he watched a movie.

The flick was more about anatomy than geography, those same students said.

It featured two Asian women having sex.

David Tenney, a teacher at Liberty Middle School, has been suspended by the Hillsborough County School Board and has been recommended for dismissal by Superintendent MaryEllen Elia. He is fighting the district’s efforts to boot him from the classroom for a pattern of inappropriate behavior.

District officials say Tenney also exposed students to pornographic images that popped up on the projector screen in front of class while he used his personal laptop for instructional purposes.

Investigative records released today show that during a fifth-period geography class at Liberty, a student got up from taking his test to see what had Tenney so occupied. Because the teacher had his headphones on, he did not hear the student come up behind him.

“(Student) advised that Mr. Tenney was watching a video of two naked Asian women having sex,” the documents say. “(Student) advised that after he sat down, several other students got up to see what Mr. Tenney was watching. (Student) advised that he later reported the incident to his mother.”

It wasn’t the only incident related to porn linked to the investigation of Tenney, who teaches both science and geography at the northeast Hillsborough middle school.

As the veteran teacher was showing pictures of Ohio State University to his class on the projector screen, photographs of two nude women popped up. They were labeled “porn,” a student said.

Another time, a picture of two naked people sitting on a couch was inadvertently displayed to the class. That photo was labeled “sex something,” the student said.

The incidents occurred in April. Tenney later refused to allow district investigators to examine his cell phone or his laptop.

The teacher denied any pornographic image was shown to students when he was showing the Ohio State photos, but he did acknowledge that something unusual did occur another time.

“Oh, yeah, something did pop up,” Tenney told investigators.

He said he could not tell what kind of image was shown.

“I couldn’t describe it, all I heard was a response from the kids, and I turned and looked and just turned it off,” he said in a May interview with investigators.

He said it might have been a photo of a woman. When asked if it could have been a picture of a naked woman, Tenney responded, “It could have been.”

Charles Fuhrmeister, the technology resource specialist at Liberty, told investigators that the district-owned equipment in Tenney’s classroom was more than adequate for him to use.

“Mr. Fuhrmeister advised that Mr. Tenney may have had a program on his computer that he liked using while teaching his class, however this was a matter of choice, not necessity,” the report said. “Mr. Fuhrmeister advised that he would not advise any teacher to utilize their personally used home equipment while teaching class.”

Tenney, 51, has worked for the district for 12 years. He is paid $42,600 annually. Attempts to contact him were unsuccessful.

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