Wakulla volunteer coach arrested, resigns from position

Published: Oct. 18, 2017 at 3:11 PM EDT
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By: Erika Fernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News

October 22, 2017

CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. (WCTV) -- According to the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office, Christopher Tomaini was arrested Friday after turning himself in for False Statements to Defraud Public Assistance over $200.

According to court documents, Tomaini did not report his employment on federal assistance applications and fraudulently received more than $3,500 in food stamp benefits that he was not legally eligible for.

He has already bonded out of jail.

Tomaini also announced on Facebook that he resigned from his volunteer coaching position with the Wakulla High School football team.

Several parents raised concerns last week about Tomaini's position given his checkered past. The former volunteer coach previously faced allegations of inappropriately texting with a teen three years ago at Chiles High School in Leon County. Tomaini never denied communicating with the student, but said he didn't believe his behavior was improper.

Despite those allegations and Tomaini's criminal past dating back to the early 1990's, the Wakulla County School Board said Tomaini passed all of the district's screening needed to be a volunteer.

By: Erika Fernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News

October 18, 2017

CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Some parents in Wakulla County are on edge after a former Chiles High School teacher accused of inappropriately texting a teenager was recently allowed to be a volunteer coach at Wakulla High.

According to a Leon County Sheriff’s Office incident report, in 2014, a teenage girl at Chiles High School told Leon County Deputies Christopher Tomaini sent her text messages that made her "feel very uncomfortable." Tomaini never denied communicating with the student, but said he didn't believe his behavior was improper.

"After reading this, I can’t even begin to fathom how it logically makes sense to put somebody with this type of history into that type of situation," said Wakulla parent, Jeremy Smith.

Tomaini was not charged with a crime. But he resigned from Chiles three days after the report and lost his teaching certificate for five years.

Despite that history, he was accepted as a volunteer for the Wakulla High School football team this fall. Smith wants to know how that happened.

"The heart of this is not to get anyone kicked out, voted out or anything, the heart of all this is to get answers for the public and to get change that protects our children more and doesn't allow people like this around our children," Smith said.

Other parents are also concerned about the Wakulla County School Board hiring a volunteer that the Department of Education decided should not be allowed to teach.

"It’s infuriating, These are our elected officials and people that we said, we trust you with our children and their safety and well-being and I feel like this was just a huge fail," said Wakulla parent, Ashton Tyer.

According to Jim Griner with the Wakulla County School District’s Office of Safety and Risk Management, the board was not aware of the previous allegations against Tomaini when he applied for the volunteer position at Wakulla High School. Tomaini passed the screening needed to become a volunteer with the district and is under the supervision of the football coach, Griner told WCTV.

Tomaini was never convicted of any crime related to the Chiles student, but he was previously denied a teaching certificate in 2006 for a conviction on battery charges.

According to the Department of Education, Tomaini beat up a man at a nightclub in July 1992, causing a busted lip, black eye, and broken nose. He served six months of probation.

Five months later, according to DOE records, Tomaini got into another fight at a nightclub and interfered with officers’ interviews with a victim. Tomaini was arrested and charged with resisting or obstructing an officer without violence. He was also later charged with violation of probation.

We have reached out to Christopher Tomaini’s attorney for comment, but we have not heard back.

Chiles High School principal Joe Burgess told WCTV that he had written two reports - one for the DOE and one to Leon County Schools - and had not allowed Tomaini to be on campus due to the allegations prior to his resignation.