Hillsborough school district dismisses its communications chief
T.G. Taylor is leaving his job as chief of community relations for the Hillsborough County School District after less than six months on the job.
Details were not immediately available, but the decision comes at a time of transition in the school system. District leaders have been cutting jobs and redeploying workers in an effort to curb spending and protect their reserves. These changes have created uncertainty in the workforce of 26,000.
Taylor and superintendent Jeff Eakins responded with a communications plan that included videos in which they reassured the workforce and community that changes are being undertaken carefully, with the students' best interest in mind.
"I've strived from day one to manage the communications division efficiently, be honest and open with the media and public, and always keep students at the forefront of every decision," Taylor said Tuesday.
But in recent months the district has come under assault by media and social media reports, including a recent ABC Action News story about the travel expenditures of board member Susan Valdes.
Taylor suggested, in his emailed remarks, that board members were behind Eakins' decision to end the district's relationship with him.
"I have trusted Jeff (Eakins) since the first day I met him, and I know that some on his board have influenced this decision based on their dislike of advice given to them," Taylor said. "Their inability or unwillingness to follow advice continues to affect their public image."
Eakins, however, said that although he received feedback from board members -- "you hear feedback from everybody," he said -- the decision was his.
"Communication is one of our top priorities," he said, adding that it is something that has long been a challenge. "It was necessary for us to make a transition. It was a hard decision to make."
Taylor, 43, supervised a department whose work included internal and external communications, and philanthropy. For most of his career, he held communications positions with the U.S. Army, most recently at MacDill Air Force Base.