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Hillsborough School Board Fight



GriffinFaliero_3The agenda called for team-building. Then School Board member Jennifer Faliero (right) told her colleague, April Griffin (left), to resign if she couldn't get with the program.  Griffin stormed out.

"When Jennifer Faliero told me to resign, my first thought was, 'How do you of all people ask for my resignation,' " Griffin said, noting that Faliero should address her own problems before attacking her.

As the Times reported last week, Faliero tried to keep hidden her recent move out of her east Hillsborough district, where she is required to reside by law. After initially denying the move, Faliero detailed how financial struggles and a divorce prompted her to relocate temporarily to south Tampa. Faliero says that she intents to move back to east Hillsborough as soon as possible.

Faliero stood by her morning remarks to Griffin, explaining that in her opinion Griffin has been wasting Board time defending herself from criticism. "I don't feel it was below the belt," Faliero said. "I feel it was a candid comment based on an assessment."

"You've got to earn your way," Faliero added. "You've got to earn your respect and you've got to learn how to work in the system."

Griffin fired back that she wasn't elected to "go along to get along."

"They don't like debate," Griffin said. "I think I'm highly effective. We're having conversations now that have not been conversations in the school district's history. We're talking about real issues."

The spat highlighted growing divisions on the usually placid Hillsborough School Board. Griffin, who was elected last year, and Susan Valdes, who is in the third-year of her first term, increasingly are distanced from the rest of the Board. Both gave Superintendent MaryEllen Elia low marks in a recent evaluation, in sharp contrast to her other bosses on the seven-member School Board.

Trust and leadership dominated the discussion after Griffin left the meeting. While Board members agreed that progress had been made, Valdes was quick to note that much still remained to be done.

"Be heard. Respect," Valdes said. "Just the things that we learned in kindergarten, for crying out loud."

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:21am]


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