Monday, February 19, 2018
Education

Center Academy principal resigns amid backlash for antigay Facebook comments

PINELLAS PARK — The Center Academy principal who faced heat for a series of antigay Facebook comments in June resigned this week, the school said in a letter sent to parents Friday.

"Although we do not condone nor agree with the views or values reflected in his recent personal Facebook statements, we do wish to recognize his good works prior to the posting," the letter said, referring to principal Stephen Kenney. "Again, we sincerely apologize to anyone hurt or offended by the statements."

Kenney's comments landed beneath a post made by Cyd Zeigler, a sports website editor living in California, just hours after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. It was a photo of Zeigler with his husband and partner of 13 years, Dan Pinar, kissing in front of the John Lennon Peace Wall during a trip to Prague, Czech Republic, just days before the massacre on June 12.

Kenney called the photo "sick" in his first comment, then posted a string of Bible verses, including one that said a man who "practices homosexuality" must "be put to death." He went on to say Zeigler's relationship is a "detestable sin" and a "capital offense."

"What he did was so heinous," Zeigler told the Tampa Bay Times soon after writing a story about the ordeal on his website. "And to do it 36 hours after 49 people were killed in a gay bar on a stranger's page was beyond explanation."

But Zeigler says the resignation is the opposite of what he had hoped would happen. He wanted to see Kenney stay at the school and make good out of a sour situation.

"I want people who are a part of the problem to be a part of the solution — and from what I heard from a lot of parents and students, it certainly seemed like there was an opportunity for him to be a part of the solution there," he said. "I hope he and the school aren't running away from that."

Zeigler said he tried to contact Kenney several times, but never got a response. He wanted to give him tips on how to engage the entire school in LGBT sensitivity training.

A spokesperson for the school said all Center Academy employees will undergo diversity training. The school declined to say what prompted Kenney's resignation other than that it was "of his own accord."

Contact Megan Reeves at [email protected] or (727) 445-4153. Follow @mreeves_tbt.

Comments
50 years ago, Florida teachers walked off their jobs. Today’s union leaders are inspired

50 years ago, Florida teachers walked off their jobs. Today’s union leaders are inspired

Ulysses Floyd remembers February 1968 all too well.Teachers by the thousands walked off their jobs across Florida. Among their concerns: low pay, poor funding, a lack of planning time, missing materials, and more. "We were at the mercy of the School ...
Published: 02/19/18
ROTC leader shocked that accused school shooter 1 of his own

ROTC leader shocked that accused school shooter 1 of his own

PARKLAND, Fla. — The sound of gunfire still ringing in his ears after his mad half-mile sprint, Jack Ciaramello was standing with friends in a grocery store parking lot when a sheriff’s deputy approached. He asked the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High se...
Published: 02/18/18
From meek to militant: The Florida teachers strike that unsettled a nation and fueled a movement

From meek to militant: The Florida teachers strike that unsettled a nation and fueled a movement

Some teachers left goodbye messages to their students on classroom blackboards. Others cleared their desks.It was Feb. 16, 1968, a Friday, and a sign of what was coming that Monday in Florida: the nation’s first statewide teachers strike.When schools...
Published: 02/18/18
Principal of a pained Stoneman Douglas High just sent a message to his students

Principal of a pained Stoneman Douglas High just sent a message to his students

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High principal Ty Thompson exuded deep emotion and a positive view forward in his first public comments since Wednesday’s mass shooting that killed 17 people.In the two-minute video posted on the school’s website and YouTube,...
Published: 02/18/18
Hillsborough rethinks its strategy for struggling schools

Hillsborough rethinks its strategy for struggling schools

TAMPA — "Elevate," a Hillsborough County School District initiative that was to focus on seven troubled schools and use them as models for dozens more, is becoming but a memory as the district seeks instead to support all schools equally."We’re more ...
Published: 02/17/18
Plant High students commemorate Parkland victims with sidewalk messages

Plant High students commemorate Parkland victims with sidewalk messages

TAMPA — Students at Plant High School honored the victims of the Parkland school shooting with a series of sidewalk chalk messages.The chalk art carried a series of messages such as "How many times?" and "Do something. Protect us." according to a Fac...
Published: 02/16/18
At public schools in Tampa Bay, a day to mourn, assess and reinforce

At public schools in Tampa Bay, a day to mourn, assess and reinforce

While fielding calls from anxious parents after the Broward County high school shooting that claimed 17 lives, school officials in the Tampa Bay area took a close look Thursday at what they are doing to keep students safe.There are gates and locks an...
Published: 02/15/18
Joe Henderson: April Griffin won’t run again for school board. She says she means it this time.

Joe Henderson: April Griffin won’t run again for school board. She says she means it this time.

Assuming April Griffin follows through on her decision not to seek re-election to the Hillsborough County School Board, well, meetings just won’t be the same. Chances are they’ll just be filled with boring reports, proclamations and routine business....
Published: 02/15/18
‘I don’t get paid for teaching,’ says Pinellas teacher accused of inappropriate acts. Now he’s gone

‘I don’t get paid for teaching,’ says Pinellas teacher accused of inappropriate acts. Now he’s gone

A St. Petersburg High teacher has retired in the middle of the school year after students said he called them "baby," "babe," "missy," "honey," "sweetie," "little girl" and ended one girl’s name with "-licious."The Pinellas County school district fou...
Published: 02/15/18
Interim principal says teamwork will lift long-struggling Moton Elementary

Interim principal says teamwork will lift long-struggling Moton Elementary

BROOKSVILLE — Less than a month after taking over as interim principal at long-struggling Moton Elementary School, Brent Gaustad says teamwork by educators across the district has things looking up.Behavior has improved, he said, and innovative proce...
Published: 02/15/18