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Live microphone catches Hillsborough superintendent, district's attorney criticizing two School Board members



Apparently unaware a microphone was on, the Hillsborough County Public Schools superintendent MaryEllen Elia shared thoughts with the school district's attorney during a break in the July 16 School Board meeting.

School staff members who want to rebut parent complaints about school practices should speak during the part of the meeting when parents speak, she Elia said. The district is being beaten up, she said.

And she agreed, twice, when attorney Tom Gonzalez suggested two board members are "in on it."

What they were "in on" is not entirely clear. Gonzalez said Monday that he has long been concerned that speakers sign up to discuss items on the agenda and chairwoman April Griffin lets them veer off topic.

At issue at the meeting was exceptional-student education. Several parents said students are not included enough with their nondisabled peers. A student with cerebral palsy also spoke, using an adaptive device.

After the parents left, 82 minutes into the recorded meeting, Elia told Gonzalez, "I have to start getting some people here at every one of the preboard things, so it's got to be at the beginning, speaking to an agenda item."

Gonzalez mentioned "Susan," meaning board member Susan Valdes, who had asked about a lawsuit that community organizer Jose Colindres signed up to discuss. But Colindres, who has been advising the ESE parents, talked about ESE instead, and Griffin allowed him to do so.

"I cannot believe the chair isn't in on all that (expletive)," Gonzalez said during his side conversation with Elia.

"I know," Elia said.

"They're both in on it," Gonzalez said.

"I know," Elia said. "I can't do anything about it, but I can make sure I got a balance. That's the problem, all I've got is people beating us up."

Hearing the recording on Monday, Griffin said: "I am really shocked. … I'm not in on anything."

Click here for a full report.


[Last modified: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 1:02pm]


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