By Kevin Deutsch
Broward County Public Schools violated state law when district officials failed to properly notify the state of a Coral Springs Police officer’s firing for allegedly soliciting a minor, according to a new government report.
Under Florida law, school districts must notify the Florida Department of Education Office of Safe Schools of a school resource officer’s dismissal for misconduct, or professional discipline, no later than 72 hours after the firing or discipline.
In the case of Steven J. Daniello, a former school resource officer at Westchester Elementary School in Coral Springs, Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested the then Coral Springs Police officer for allegedly soliciting a minor for sex on January 18, 2021.
Criminal charges were followed by his dismissal from the Coral Springs Police force ten days later, according to the Operational Audit report issued this month by Florida’s Auditor General, Sherrill F. Norman.
Despite the firing, Broward County Public Schools did not notify the state of Daniello’s dismissal from the police force or his pending child sex solicitation case, until March 28, 2021, 56 days after the legally required notification period, according to the audit.
The auditor’s report includes a recommendation that the Broward school district “enhance procedures to ensure and demonstrate compliance with State school safety laws.”
“The District should ensure that the FDOE Office of Safe Schools and Sheriff’s Office are timely notified when safe-school officers are dismissed for misconduct, are otherwise disciplined, or discharge their firearms while exercising duties other than for training purposes,” the report states. “To facilitate such notifications, District contracts with applicable law enforcement agencies should require the agencies to promptly inform the District when such incidents occur.”
As court records show, Daniello, 64, was sentenced to 14-and-a-half months in state prison after pleading guilty to two counts of using a computer to sexually exploit a child.
He will also serve nearly four years of probation after completing his prison term, according to documents filed in Broward County Circuit Court.
As part of his sentence, issued January 4, Daniello will register as a sex offender, forfeit his law enforcement officer certification, pay $10,680 in restitution, and stay away from the 15-year-old female victim.
According to the victim, Daniello, a longtime family friend, began conversing with her online in September 2020. The conversations escalated to the point that Daniello offered to pay the victim for nude photos, and Daniello and the victim discussed the victim performing sexual acts on Daniello, according to BSO.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.