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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Report near in investigation on coercion in Pasco superintendent's race



It's been three months since the Pasco School Board kicked off an investigation into accusations that top district officials attempted to intimidate or coerce their employees to back superintendent Heather Fiorentino's reelection bid.

A report might be ready in time for Tuesday's School Board meeting, which also just happens to be Election Day. Fiorentino doesn't appear on the ballot, having lost the Aug. 14 primary to former secretary of state Kurt Browning, who faces token write-in opposition for the post.

Board attorney Dennis Alfonso told the Gradebook that he spoke earlier this week with Tampa lawyer Tom Gonzales, who is conducting the investigation for $175 an hour, and learned that the information gathering effort is almost complete. "At that moment in time he had spoken with just about everyone," Alfonso said, adding that one district-level person had not returned Gonzales' repeated calls.

"He is getting ready to draft his report," Alfonso said. "Maybe if we're really lucky we'll get it on Friday."

Preliminary information hinted that many interviewed employees did not want to come forward with public accusations, he added, suggesting that the findings might be more general than specific in nature. But Gonzales has not shared his work yet, no one knows what repercussions, if any, will come.

Whatever comes, Alfonso defended the board's move to spend money on the report. With allegations made against upper-level management, he said, "we don't have the luxury of doing nothing." Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 11:46am]


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