She teaches mentally disabled teens in Tampa
The 33-year-old Middleton High educator violated her position of authority by having sex with one of her students, a 16-year-old, police say.
Butler of 3507 N Tampa St. faces felony charges of engaging in lewd or lascivious behavior, jail records show. She was released from the Orient Road Jail early Wednesday morning on $7,500 bail.
Police say she and the teenager had sex up to a dozen times, including a Monday meeting at Butler's home.
Butler, who did not return a call for comment, has been suspended with pay, according to Hillsborough school spokeswoman Linda Cobbe.
The teacher has no criminal record in Florida, records show.
She joined Middleton's faculty at the start of this school year and taught students considered "educable," meaning they are the least affected of those classified as mentally disabled. The students have a degree of mental retardation and may exhibit judgment problems, Cobbe said.
Prior to that, Butler taught as a substitute at Coleman Middle School and Bryant Elementary School during the 2006-07 school year, Cobbe said.
Police say they learned of the sexual relationship in an unusual way.
Plainclothes police officers spotted six teens speeding away on bicycles Tuesday while conducting surveillance at the Meridian Apartments at 2450 Hillsborough Ave. The teens wore green and white Halloween skeleton gloves in the sticky 80-degree weather. The teens then got into a blue Jeep Grand Cherokee.
After the Jeep twice crossed the double-yellow center line, police pulled it over, Davis said.
Butler owned the vehicle, Davis said. The teenager driving had no license. He told police that his friend, Butler, let him use her car.
Butler was called to come and pick up the Jeep. While police waited for her, officers talked with one of the other teens, who told them the driver was in a relationship with the teacher.
The officers suspected a sexual relationship, and they questioned Butler. At first, she said the relationship was platonic, but then she changed her story, telling police the two had sex, Davis said.
Before Butler started her teaching career, she worked at Brandon Lakes Animal Hospital, according to Cobbe. Workers there declined to comment, but one of Butler's job references remembered her work with animals.
Diane Simpkinson, an elementary school teacher, met Butler through the animal clinic. She never observed Butler's teaching, but Simpkinson said she was impressed with Butler's personality. Butler cared for Simpkinson's home and a litter of puppies when she was out of town.
"I had total trust in her," Simpkinson said. She said Butler seemed responsible, like a "very positive person."
is this even news anymore? it is when you see this follow-up...........
Girl suspended after telling on teacher
TAMPA -- About two weeks ago, a girl started talking at Middleton High, telling people that a special education teacher for the mentally disabled was sleeping with one of her students.
Middleton principal Carl Green talked with the teacher, Christina Butler, 33, and the 16-year-old boy. Both denied it, said Hillsborough school spokesman Stephen Hegarty. The girl continued to talk, though, saying the teacher should be fired. Administrators suspended the girl, "pending conference," which means until she and a parent or guardian sat down with an administrator to talk.
"He denied it. She denied it. We had nothing more than a rumor on our hands," Hegarty said.
It's now more than a rumor.
Tuesday police arrested Butler. Police say Butler told them she had sex with the student up to a dozen times, including a meeting Monday at her home, a spacious gray bungalow on Tampa Street.
She was released from jail after posting $7,500 bail. Only a big barking dog came to her door Thursday at noon.
Hegarty said he was not aware of the school's handling of the rumor when he spoke with reporters Wednesday. He said he learned details after speaking with the principal, who was out of town.
The girl was not suspended as punishment, he said, and she is now back in school.
After the girl's original complaint, Butler called the teacher's union. School administrators also were "taking steps to get more supervision for Butler's class," Hegarty said.
County Commissioner Kevin White, whose daughter attends Middleton, said he was "bewildered" when he learned that a student was suspended after telling on Butler.
"It was just obviously dismissed as a fabrication," White said.
Dismissing the allegation would be like ignoring a complaint of a gun on campus, he said.
"It makes me so happy that this is my daughter's last year at that school," he said. "I think the bottom line is when we have people in power they need to act responsibly."