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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Magic solution: Would-be superintendent sought to rid her school of 'negative energy'



Tamayopix_3 “Due to personal reasons, I find myself in the job market for the first time after 20 years … I am searching for an excellent school district where my education and experience can be maximized.”

So says the first paragraph of Maritza D. Tamayo’s cover letter to the Pinellas School Board, which is advertising for a new superintendent. The letter is more notable for what it doesn’t say. Tamayo, above, was fired last year after an investigator for the New York City School District found she “engaged in employee misconduct and she engaged in financial irregularities.”

A veteran educator, Tamayo has denied the charges. But in a controversy that provided endless fodder for the New York tabloids, she was accused in part of arranging a Santeria ceremony at Unity High School, where she was principal for 10 years, then pressuring her assistant principal to help pay for it.

According to the assistant principal, Tamayo said the ceremony would rid the school of “negative energy.” She also allegedly told the assistant how to show up, saying: “Wear white; if there’s anything evil, it won’t get you.”

The ceremony took place in January 2006, while students were away on winter break. A report by schools investigator Richard J. Condon tells the colorful story of a woman named Gilda who charged $1,800 for a ceremony that included Tarot cards, smoke from a brown cigar, a black doll wrapped in purple cloth and 40 lit candles.

Tamayo is one of 14 applicants to replace former Pinellas superintendent Clayton Wilcox. The application deadline is July 11. She says in her letter that she’s a self-starter and eager to learn new things. She says, “I strive for continued excellence.”

See the investigator’s report here, as well as press accounts in the New York Daily News, the New York Post and The New York Sun.

In other superintendent search news, Arthur W. Stellar, a superintendent from Massachusetts, today became the latest applicant. Below, see brief summaries of all the applicants so far.

Arthur W. Stellar
Taunton, Massachusetts
Current job: Superintendent, Taunton Public Schools.
Previous job: Chief education officer and vice president, Renaissance Learning, Inc., Madison, Wis., 2003-04
Education: Doctorate, education administration, Ohio University.
Application received: June 26.

Melindo A. Persi
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Current job: None listed.
Previous jobs: Interim superintendent, Brick Township, N.J., 2006-08; various superintendent and administratiave jobs in New Jersey, 1963-2006.
Education: Master’s degree, education, Rutgers University.
Application received: June 24.

Maritza D. Tamayo
Forest Hills, New York
Current job: None listed.
Previous job: Principal/assistant principal, Unity High School, New York, 1995-2007.
Education: Master’s degree, romance languages, The City Collge of New York; Professional diploma, school administration and supervision, St. John’s University.
Application received: June 23.

William R. Frank, III
Bel Air, Maryland
Current job: Special education principal, 2003-present.
Previous job: Elementary school principal with concurrent stint (1992-94) as superintendent.
Education: Master’s degree, education, Rutgers University.
Application received: June 20.

Willie C. Watts, Jr.
Akron, Ohio
Current jobs: Adjunct professor, Ashland University; education consultant; pastor; financial advisor, Primerica.
Previous job: Superintendent, Phoenix Village Academies, a group of public community schools, 2006 Education: Doctorate, educational administration, Pacific Western University; law degree, LaSalle University.
Application received: June 19.

James P. Hoover
Monaca, Pennsylvania
Current job: Chief executive officer of a distance learning charter school in Pittsburgh.
Previous job: School principal and technology coordinator, 1997-2006.
Education: Doctorate, education, University of Pittsburgh.
Application received: June 17

John J. Selch
New York, New York
Current job: Educational associate with the New York State Education Department. Previous job: President of the Science Council of New York, 2003 to 2007, and taught science in New York public schools for eight years.
Education: Post master’s work, school administration and supervision, Hunter College, City University of New York.
Application received: June 17.

Aquine Jackson
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Current job: Chief academic officer, Milwaukee Public Schools, responsible for increasing student performance and addressing the achievement gap.
Previous job: Office of Neighborhood Schools Director, Milwaukee Public Schools, responsible for adding 11,000 seats in overcrowded attendance areas.
Education: Doctorate, physical education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Application received: June 9.

Roy L. Higgins
Matthews, North Carolina
Current job: Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools – principal, Right Choices Boot Camp program and Alternative to Long-term Suspension School.
Previous job: Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools – hearing officer for student due process hearings.
Education: Doctorate, educational leadership, South Carolina State University.
Application received: June 5.

Michael P.  Livovich, Jr.
Crown Point, Indiana
Current job: Owner/president of a school consulting business, Partners for Educational Reform
Previous job: Hanover (Indiana) Community School Corp.   superintendent of schools.
Education: Doctorate, educational leadership, Indiana State University.
Application received: June 3.

Rebecca S. Lowry
Dayton, Ohio
Current job: Dayton Public Schools – Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Services.
Previous job: Cleveland Municipal School District – Chief Academic Officer.
Education: Doctorate, counseling/student personnel services and management, Virginia Tech.
Application received: June 3.

Henry J. Hastings
Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan
Current job: Education consultant and policy advisor.
Previous jobs: Lawyer; commercial real estate and property manager; various teaching and lecturing positions.
Education: Doctorate, education, University of Michigan; law degree from Michigan State University.
Application received: June 3.

John R. Phillips
Isle of Palms, South Carolina
Current job: Claflin University (Orangeburg, S.C.)  - Interim dean in the School of Education and Director of University/School District Partnerships and Chair of the Graduate Education Program & Clinical Practice.
Previous job: Atlanta Public Schools – Executive director, Comprehensive Systemic School Reform, responsible for reform initiatives at 21 schools.
Education: Doctorate, education, St. Louis University.
Application received: June 3.

John H. Pertner
Key West, Florida
Current job: Independent contractor for Monroe County Schools, Accountability and Assessment Department.
Previous job: Principal, Marathon High School, Marathon, Fla.
Education: Doctorate (school not specified).
Application received: June 3.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:48am]


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