Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Education

Hillsborough judge's bid to get veteran back into USF gets attention of U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs

TAMPA — A Hillsborough County judge's effort to have a former Army Green Beret re-admitted to the University of South Florida won an influential ally Friday: the U.S. secretary of veterans affairs.

In an email to a USF trustee, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald didn't specifically mention the case of former Army Staff Sgt. Clay Allred, who is on probation for firing a gun outside a Tampa gas station last year, a felony offense.

But McDonald emphasized the importance of education in rehabilitating veterans — "even those who have committed felonies."

"If a school like USF eliminates our ability to use education (GI Bill, Voc Rehab) as a way to treat a veteran … I find that a very serious issue that I would like to discuss with the leadership of the school," McDonald wrote.

USF Board of Trustees chairman Harold Mullis said he hadn't seen the email Friday.

Circuit Judge Gregory Holder, who sits on a special court for veterans, has pushed USF in recent weeks to readmit Allred, 30, who needs 17 credits to finish his degree.

This week, Holder made his case to the university's board. He also sent a followup email to trustee Scott Hopes, copying McDonald, a friend from his time at West Point who took the helm of the Department of Veterans Affairs last year.

"The secretary has been following this case very closely," Holder said. "This situation applies to all veterans."

In an email to the Tampa Bay Times, McDonald didn't comment on the particulars of Allred's case, but said Veteran Treatment Courts like Holder's are "an important part of the work we do at VA."

However, the Board of Trustees typically does not get involved in individual admissions cases. Allred has not yet applied for a special review process through which he could appeal USF's decision to dismiss him for the incident last year that got him into legal trouble.

A university spokesman said the school respects its many student veterans and has been recognized nationally for its work to help them transition from military service to college and a new career.

"USF has an established process for admissions," said USF media and public affairs manager Adam Freeman. "Any applicant who has been convicted of a felony, regardless of their background, must complete the terms of court-ordered sentencing before they are considered. The safety of our 48,000 students and approximately 15,000 employees is the highest priority for USF."

Allred, who suffers post-traumatic stress disorder after serving tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, was expelled from USF's Tampa campus over the gun incident. Allred stopped to use the restroom at a Mobil station on Fowler Avenue and was turned away. When the attendant, a Muslim man, told him the gas station was closed, Allred urinated on the floor, told the clerk, "I don't like you people," and pulled an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle from his car. Driving away, he fired a handgun into the air three times.

But Holder says Allred has been eager to get rehabilitation and deserves a second chance. McDonald said in his email that education was key to getting veterans help.

"Our current best approach models use education to get veterans, even those who have committed felonies, back (on) their feet and reintegrated into society," McDonald wrote to Hopes and Holder.

"I can't tell you the number of lives that have been saved, and education is an important part of this."

 
Comments
Hillsborough school district will pursue two kinds of local taxes

Hillsborough school district will pursue two kinds of local taxes

TAMPA — Hillsborough County School District officials took an important step Tuesday toward asking the voters to pay higher taxes for schools that, they say, are not getting enough money from the state.The board voted 5-0 to submit a tax referendum r...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editor’s note: Ethan Hooper wrote today’s column to give Ernest Hooper Father’s Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Published: 06/18/18
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Published: 06/16/18
School board races attract new faces

School board races attract new faces

TAMPA — When long-time Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes resigned this month from the board to run for the State House of Representatives, the decision affected more than just her seat in west Hillsborough’s District 1.It also coul...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/17/18
Hillsborough schools tax referendum is unlikely for November

Hillsborough schools tax referendum is unlikely for November

TAMPA — Money that the Hillsborough County School District needs to build schools and replace air conditioners might be farther from reach, thanks to a new state law and a bureaucratic process required before the voters can decide on a tax referendum...
Published: 06/14/18
University of Chicago eliminates SAT/ACT requirement

University of Chicago eliminates SAT/ACT requirement

The University of Chicago will no longer require ACT or SAT scores from U.S. students, sending a jolt through elite institutions of higher education as it becomes the first top-10 research university to join the test-optional movement.Numerous school...
Published: 06/14/18
Unhappy with superintendent’s budget wish list, Hernando School Board shuts down talk of tax increase

Unhappy with superintendent’s budget wish list, Hernando School Board shuts down talk of tax increase

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano presented to the School Board Tuesday nearly $53 million worth of budget priorities, asking them to choose which will be funded in the upcoming school year.The board voted 3-2 later Tue...
Published: 06/13/18
UT shines the spotlight on visiting authors

UT shines the spotlight on visiting authors

The University of Tampa’s MFA program will host the June 2018 Residency Visiting Writers Lectores Series that runs from now until June 21 on the ninth floor of the Vaughn Center, 401 W Kennedy Blvd. Each reading will be held at 7:30 p.m.Each January ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Hernando School Board fires Superintendent Lori Romano after member says she ‘lost the public trust’

Hernando School Board fires Superintendent Lori Romano after member says she ‘lost the public trust’

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano will step down at the end of this month following a 3-2 vote by the School Board to terminate its contract with her amid increasing concerns about her ability to lead.Romano has suffere...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18
Pasco summit aims to merge school cultures while making students feel included

Pasco summit aims to merge school cultures while making students feel included

NEW PORT RICHEY — The dozen Fivay High school students and their administrators arrived at the Pasco County school district’s annual Together We Stand conference with a clear goal in mind.With hundreds of former Ridgewood High students arriving in th...
Published: 06/12/18