Pinellas school board rejects new job for troubled administrator
By a 5-2 vote, the Pinellas County School Board just rejected a recommendation from Superintendent Julie Janssen to move an embattled administrator from one key job to another.
Janssen wanted to make Janet Hernandez the director of dropout prevention after a rocky year as the director of professional development. But a majority of board members said the problems in professional development - where employees accused Hernandez of bullying and creating a "culture of fear" - were too great to give her another shot at such an important job.
"We need the most qualified person ... the person who knows our community, the person who knows dropout prevention," said board member Linda Lerner. "I'm not going to put someone in there who needs a success plan."
"There's too many red flags," said board member Robin Wikle.
The board action follows a story in today's St. Petersburg Times about Hernandez, who left a teaching job in Manatee County last year to take the top job in professional development. The story noted a rare staff survey that top district officials commissioned in late spring to gauge employee sentiment about Hernandez and her leadership abilities. The story also noted that Hernandez was embroiled in a district-ordered investigation over her role in filling out her husband's job application.
Lerner, Wikle, Janet Clark, Carol Cook and Mary Brown voted for a motion to reject Janssen's recommendation. Peggy O'Shea and Nina Hayden voted against it.
"There comes a time as a board member where I have to allow Dr. Janssen to make certain decisions," Hayden said. "This is one where I'd be more inclined to defer to Dr. Janssen."
It's not clear where Hernandez will go next. The board's action tonight means she technically remains a director in human resources. But Lerner and Clark told Janssen they expect Hernandez will be moved to another department - and soon.