PINELLAS PARK - After being arrested and charged with 10 counts of possession of child pornography, John Kaneski has resigned from his teaching position at Cross Bayou Elementary in Pinellas Park. The 42-year-old has taught English as a Second Language at the school since 2010.
Kaneski was arrested at his home in Dunedin on Jan. 4 after a Sheriff’s Office investigation that began in November. Investigators learned of Kaneski during this undercover Internet operation, which focused on individuals who collect child pornography. They obtained a search warrant and discovered 10 items of child pornography on his computer. Most were videos of children engaging in sex acts.
According to investigators, Kaneski admitted to downloading the videos and other images. He was taken to the Pinellas County Jail.
In 2000, the Sheriff’s Office investigated a report that Kaneski abused an 8-year-old girl when he taught at Curlew Creek Elementary School in Palm Harbor. But the child recanted her complaint and the case was dropped.
On Jan. 7, the Pinellas County School District said Kaneski resigned from his position rather than be fired. His name has been sent to the State Education Professional Practices Services, which is the first step in having his teaching certificate revoked.
After his arrest, Kathy Wickett, principal at Cross Bayou, sent all parents a phone message assuring them that the pornographic images and videos on Kaneski’s computer did not involve any of the children at the school. “None of the images depict students at our school or any school in the District,” she said in the message. “I want to assure you that Mr. Kaneski will not be returning to Cross Bayou on Monday, [Jan. 7].” She added that he’s been told not to report for duty in any capacity.
Wickett went on to outline the procedure for any teacher who has to work closely with a student. “Any adult who works one-on-one with students or in small groups, as Mr. Kaneski did, does so in a highly visible area, such as a hallway or in a room with other adults,” she said.
Kaneski began his teaching career in Pinellas County as a substitute teacher in 1985. He became a full-time teacher in 1996 at Walsingham Elementary in Largo. In 2000, he moved to Curlew Creek Elementary in Palm Harbor, then in 2006 to Skycrest Elementary in Clearwater.
The Sheriff’s Office said that it is also currently investigating a report that he may have sexually abused a child. Investigators have not revealed the identity of the child or the school involved.