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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Former Pinellas middle school principal hires high-profile lawyer



Principal_thornton Former John Hopkins Middle School principal Maureen Thornton has hired high-profile attorney John Trevena to assist in her fight to win backpay from the Pinellas school district.

At Thornton’s request, an administrative hearing at district headquarters has been scheduled for Sept. 1-2. Thornton asked for the hearing after superintendent Julie Janssen recommended in April that Thornton be suspended without pay for 45 days.

After Thornton requested the hearing, Janssen changed her recommendation to suspension without pay for the duration of the contract, which ends June 30.

District staff attorney Laurie Dart said at the time that since the hearing likely couldn’t be scheduled until after Thornton’s contract expired, the most the former principal would be able to request would be back pay for the time she was suspended – about $13,000.

Janssen already had decided not to renew Thornton’s contract before her original recommendation to suspend Thornton came to the board.

As Gradebook readers may remember, Thornton was removed from her job in December. A subsequent investigation led district officials to conclude that she had used her position for personal gain and had engaged in unauthorized use of school property.

Donna Winchester, Pinellas education reporter

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:26am]


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