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School principal under investigation

Zephyrhills, Florida -- The principal at Zephyrhills High school is under investigation... and Steven Van Gorden isn't just the head of his school, he's the head of his city.

Van Gorden is also the mayor of Zephyrhills.

So far it sounds like an internal or personnel matter, but since Van Gorden is also the Mayor, people want to know what's going on.

The Pasco County School district confirms Van Gorden is under investigation -- placed on paid-leave since late Friday -- for something that's gotten the attention of the district's employee relations department.

Kevin Shibley, Pasco Schools' Director of Employee Relations, says, "I can confirm that at least to this point that it does not involve children or students at the school."

Shibley also explained the reason they cannot say more -- even though Van Gorden is mayor -- is because this has nothing to do with the role he occupies with the municipality.

"At this point, we have no indication that there's been any illegal activity," he added.

Van Gorden was elected mayor just six months ago, but is a well-connected former councilman and community activist.

The 37-year-old father of two wasn't home when we visited his address, but the Tampa Bay Times quotes Van Gorden as saying he's sickened by this, and doesn't know anything about it.

Linda McCall, a neighbor, seemed willing to give Van Gorden the benefit of the doubt.

"A lot of people can say things and it not be true," she said, relieved the investigation apparently does not involve kids or crime.

But others can't help being more than a little "Curious. Just curious to find out what it is," admitted neighbor Pat Holmes.

You might also think Van Gorden's investigation would be the talk of the campus at Zephyrhills High School, but it hasn't been.

"I'm just shocked. I had no idea," said 10th grader Brian Keaton when asked about it.

Keaton says there has not been any mention of it at school. He and classmates were clueless, he says, that their principal was even under investigation.

Brian's mom, Phyllis, wasn't happy about all the secrecy. Parents, she says, should have been kept in the loop.

"I think that they should inform the parents of something going on whether it's good or bad. The parents still should be informed."

Van Gorden has been principal at Zephyrhills High School since 2009.

The investigation is expected to be wrapped up sometime early next week.  


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