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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Griffin: Recording proves Hillsborough board members can talk to the bus consultant



We reported Friday that Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia instructed School Board members not to try and influence an ongoing consultant's study of the transportation system.

Really? member April Griffin asked in an email to Elia, adding that she would not have approved the $38,500 consultant study if she had been shut out of the process.

There's more.

Griffin went back over the audio recording of the Jan. 28 board workshop that directed School Bus Consultants' scope of work.

In that recording, board chairwoman Carol Kurdell can clearly be heard telling consultant Tom Platt: "And certainly, board members can talk to you about their concerns as we move forward and get clarification."

"Of course," Platt says twice as Kurdell finishes her statement.

Kurdell then goes around the table asking every board member, one by one, if they are comfortable with the arrangement. They all say they are comfortable. No one objects to being able to speak with Platt.

Late Friday, Griffin sent another email to Elia. "How do you suggest we proceed in light of this new information?" she asked.

As of Monday morning, there was no reply.

But there was a reponse, of sorts, from Randy Toler, who is challenging Griffin as she runs for re-election in a countywide district.

Toler issued a news release, announcing a campaign event on Tuesday that will be focused on special education. Specifically, he'll discuss the practice of giving high-stakes tests to children who are severely disabled; and a report in Orange County that a child was visted by his hospital-homebound teacher three days before he died.

The subject line on the email, however, was pure politics:

"Randy Toler Claims April Griffin Road Show Political Stunt."

Griffin said she will not attack her opponents who, like Toler, filed to run at a time when she planned to leave politics altogether.

Concerns about exceptional student education and safety on the school buses caused her to go for a third term, she said.

"I'm doing what I believe I need to do to correct these things."

[Last modified: Monday, March 10, 2014 1:31pm]


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