Was Pickens snubbed, too?
State Rep. Joe Pickens (left) said last month he wasn't interested in the ed commish job because he wanted to finish his House term and didn't want to uproot his kids (see Gradebook post here). But state Sen. Don Gaetz, who was among those encouraging Pickens to apply, says that the powers-that-be behind the search "put out the un-welcome mat" for Pickens and "sent him a message that he would not be considered very seriously."
"It is my understanding that those in charge of the search made clear that they really didn't want an independent, dynamic leader" like Pickens, Gaetz, R-Niceville, tells the Gradebook. Gaetz said Pickens, a Palatka Republican who chairs the House Schools and Learning Council, is too much of a "gentleman" to say the search process is flawed.
But Gaetz is willing to go there. The cold shoulder he thinks Pickens got, and then the sorry-but-you're-too-late response given to former Leon County Superintendent Bill Montford (see Gradebook posts here and here), has "not inspired confidence on my part," the chairman said.
Pickens tells the Gradebook that he appreciates Gaetz's comments and support. And indeed, he adds, Gaetz offers an accurate depiction of his experience with the commissioner's search (though he didn't want to get into too many details).
"During the period of time that I was involved, it was certainly less than satisfactory, from my point of view," Pickens said. "There were a number of factors that resulted in my deciding not to apply, and that was one of them."
The State Board of Education is scheduled to interview seven finalists on Sept. 17-18 in Tampa.
- Ron Matus and Jeff Solochek