Lawsuits planned as Sarasota school officials face multiple allegations of inappropriate behavior

From the classroom to top administrators, the allegations are coming from every corner. 

Two Brookside Middle School students said teacher Maxwell Guss - who was arrested last week - touched them inappropriately.

"What happened to them is a tragic event they will never forget," said lawyer Sara Blackwell, who is representing one of the girls.

And in an unrelated string of incidents, Jeff Maultsby was removed as assistant superintendent after administrative assistant, Cheraina Bonner brought forward messages from Maultsby she said were inappropriate.

A report on the aftermath of Bonner's allegations said now-fired superintendent Todd Bowden didn't react properly, or at all, to the complaint.

"No amount of money can fix what has happened to me," Bonner said Nov. 5th. "No amount of money can give me back my sleepless nights."

Parents and a school resource officer also accuse the district of not reacting to the complaints against Maxwell Guss, either this time, or after a 2017 incident. 

At Sarasota High School, a mother complained that Guss inappropriately touched her daughter. 

The then-14-year-old recently told the police as part of an October investigation, he would massage female students and, one time, his hands came very close to her chest.  

Documents show an assistant principal could not find the 2017 file about that complaint, even though Guss said he had a meeting with her. Police say that girl's complaints never made it to them. 

"Even though we have come a long way, we need to keep looking at where the evil is," said Blackwell, "and where we can extract it from our school system, so we have safety in our schools for our students."

Blackwell is not representing the student involved in the 2017 incident. She is representing the girl and an SRO who accuse the district of not reacting properly to this year's complaints. 

She is focused on Brookside principal Matt Gruhl.

"He needs to be looked at very seriously," said Blackwell. "Why he is there, what role he should have there?"

The district reiterated Monday it believes Gruhl reacted properly to the most recent complaints about Guss. Officials say the Department of Children and Families was immediately notified and that police got involved. 

The district said these allegations were concerning enough to immediately remove Guss from the school and place him on administrative leave.

Lawyer Sara Blackwell says lawsuits are planned and there are more students who complained Guss touched them inappropriately.

Though Sarasota County schools has appointed an acting superintendent, they are likely to hire an interim on Dec.10. One possibility is Bill Vogel, who has 16 years leading two other districts. 

He told FOX 13 he, "is familiar with the district," and, "is impressed with their academic performance."

He also said he is, "Aware of the challenges the district faces. Those would have to be a priority of anyone brought in, though those priorities are typically set by the school board."