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County Employee Accuses Teitelbaum of "Uninvited" Physical Contact

MANATEE COUNTY – Information previously reported by TBTappeared to be at least partially substantiated by public records provided to our publicationfor review. Sources had claimed to have direct knowledge of allegations made against Mitchell Teitelbaum, who had just been confirmed as Deputy County Administrator.

In a written complaint dated December 13, 2022, an employee of Manatee County alleged inappropriate and uninvited touching by Mr. Teitelbaum. The alleged incident is said to have taken place on Nov. 29, the same day that Mr. Teitelbaum was confirmedto the role of deputy county administrator by the Manatee County Commission.

The record of the written complaint was first obtained by the Florida Center for Government Accountability through a public record request.

Although the complainant's personally identifying information had been redacted from the form–including the employee’s name and position title–the employee's department/division is listed as one within county government administration. The employee alleged to have verbally reported the incident to HR on two separate occasions before finally submitting the complaint in writing.

Details of the alleged incident provided in the complaint included, "Unwanted/uninvited contact of a sexual nature such as grabbing around the waist and pulling close to/against his body making me uncomfortable."

The complainant alleged the incident occurred on the ninth floor of the county administrative building following the BOCC meeting where the board of commissioners unanimously confirmed Teitelbaum as deputy county administrator. The victim described the incident as having taken place, "outside of Mr. Teitelbaum's office."

The ninth floor of the county administrative building is the same floor where the county administrator’s office and commissioners’ offices reside, as well as additional county staff including those of the records management division, financial management department, and 311.

The complainant detailed that they first reported the incident to an HR employee verbally on Dec. 5, and then reported the incident again verbally to Manatee County Director of Human Resources Jennifer Harmon the following day. The complainant alleged in the written complaint that neither of the previous verbal complaints to HR resulted in any request by HR for the employee to complete a formal complaint form.

"I am filling out this form as I was not asked to sign a complaint form and want to make [sure] the complaint is documented in writing in addition to my verbal complaints to HR," the employee included in the complaint.

The employee also named at least two county employees as alleged witnesses to the incident described in the complaint.

On the morning of Dec. 13–the date of the written complaint–Teitelbaum requested his resignation submitted to the school district, where he was serving as the district's legal counsel, be "tabled." Manatee School Board members unanimously approved Teitelbaum’s request, and he participated in the meeting. The formal complaint is not timestamped, so TBT is unable to verify whether the complaint was filed before or after Teitelbaum's request for the district to table his resignation.

TBT reached out to the county, the district, and Mr. Teitelbaum for comment, and to clarify whether he is currently employed by either the district or the county.

In an emailed statement, Teitelbaum responded to our request categorizing the accusations made against him as "false and unsubstantiated."

"For nearly nine years, I have proudly served the School District of Manatee County, supporting our students, support staff, teachers, and administrators," Teitelbaum began his statement to TBT. "I was presented an opportunity to join the County as a Deputy County Administrator, a position of growth, responsibility, and continued community service.

"In regards to the Deputy County Administrator position, which I had not yet started, on the very date of my confirmation, November 29, 2022, I was faced with an unsubstantiated and false complaint on an incident that did not take place. Senior Administration and my wife were present with me and at my side at all times, and senior staff at all other times that I was in the building," the statement included.

"In order to hold those responsible in perpetuating this false complaint, I requested a formal impartial third-party investigation into the false allegation, which is a violation of Florida Statute Section 837.06. It is regrettable to face this situation prior to ever starting for, working for, or conducting any business whatsoever on behalf of the County," Teitelbaum wrote.

In conclusion, Teitelbaum added, "The truth will come out through an independent third-party investigation."

When reached for comment Tuesday, a spokesperson for the school district told TBT that because the incident involved an internal complaint within a separate government agency, any questions pertaining to the complaint itself would need to be directed to the county government.

"The school district has received no official notification regarding a complaint or any subsequent investigation into any complaint," the district spokesperson wrote before confirming the status of Teitelbaum's role with the district.

"Mr. Teitelbaum asked that his resignation from the district be withdrawn during the school board meeting on Dec. 13. The school board tabled the motion [for resignation] so Mr. Teitelbaum remains employed by the district. Any subsequent developments will be handled in occurrence with the proper policies and procedures of the School District of Manatee County," the official statement concluded.

As of this reporting, the county had not responded to any of TBT’s requests for comment, including our request to confirm any active investigation into the allegations against Teitelbaum, or the status of his confirmed position of deputy county administrator.

In Jan. 2020, following a sexual harassment complaint filed by an employee of an outside agency against Mr. Teitelbaum, the school district placed the attorney on paid administrative leave while it conducted an internal investigation into the allegations.

The results of the investigation, conducted by school board attorney Stephen Dye, found no violations and concluded that the complaint "was from an outside agency and therefore not a violation of any law" and "was being presented by corporate managers who are concerned with their own liability." Mr. Dye included that he found "no evidence to support the complaints" during the investigation.

As a result of the complaint and investigation, Teitelbaum received a "memorandum of conference" from Superintendent Cynthia Saunders that was placed in his school district personnel file. Teitelbaum was also required to undergo sensitivity/sexual harassment in the workplace training and refrain from any future contact with his accuser.


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