Teacher Arrested Over Student Protest at Kathleen High School in Lakeland

LAKELAND -- A now-former teacher at Kathleen High School is accused of leading the disturbance that took place there at the start of classes Monday morning.

The Polk Sheriff's Office says Tomaris Hill, 33, started posting negative posts about Principal Daraford Jones over the weekend, accusing him of "ruining (students) high school experience because is 5'2" and has short man syndrome." According to the arrest affidavit, Hill followed this up with a group text to a school club he sponsored, Generation of Gentlemen, which put him in trouble with the administration of the school over fundraisers. Hill had been told to stop fundraising because his events violated school district policy. For two weeks, he had not shown up to teach. According to the sheriff, Hill's text told members to stage a protest Monday morning (27th) to "block off traffic from getting onto the school to make the street backup."

The deputy's affidavit says Hill drove a black Chevy pickup near the softball fields and unloaded a portable speaker and microphone. About 200 students gathered around Hill as he chanted "Jones gotta go." Some of the students went to the main office, and finding doors locked, jumped fences. Some began punching lockers and windows. 13 students were arrested. They told authorities they were unhappy with Jones' implementation of new rules, including tardy students being locked out of class and then being written up.

Hill taught at Kathleen for three years, with classes in World History and African-American Studies. He has been dismissed from his teaching job and faces charges of disruption of a school function and resisting arrest without violence, both misdemeanors. He was arrested Monday at his Orlando home.

Photo: PCSO/Canva

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