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Investigations continue into accusations of coercion in Pasco superintendent's race



Don't look for any quick answers in the Pasco County School Board's investigation into whether superintendent Heather Fiorentino or her staff members tried to intimidate other employees into backing Fiorentino's reelection bid.

Tom Gonzales, the Tampa lawyer the board is paying $175 an hour to look into the allegations, told the Gradebook today that he's not close to done in his review. "I don't see how it could be wrapped up before the election," Gonzales said, adding that "we're talking weeks, rather than months."

If that's the case, at least one board member is wondering whether it would be worth the continued expense after the ballots are cast -- particularly if Fiorentino doesn't win. "We've got to bring that back up," board member Alison Crumbley said. She also suggested that the board might want to revisit its policy on electioneering, to "make it as clear as possible so people know what to follow."

A second investigation into a complaint that some administrators pressured former Hudson Middle School assistant principal Buffey Simon to financially support Fiorentino's campaign is closer to completion. Employee relations supervisor Betsy Kuhn told the Gradebook she has almost all the materials needed to wind up her inquiry, with a report to follow soon after.

Neither Kuhn nor Gonzales would reveal what they've uncovered so far. Until their work is done, they said, the details remain private. Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Thursday, August 9, 2012 3:11pm]


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