Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Band director reprimanded for mobilizing Parrott Middle School band support

Joe Harrin directed two schools’ bands last school year.

Joe Harrin directed two schools’ bands last school year.

BROOKSVILLE — It was an emotional subject for band director Joe Harrin.

Faced with the prospect that Parrott Middle School's band would be eliminated for the coming school year, Harrin helped mobilize a group of supporters to speak during a Hernando County School Board meeting in May. For more than an hour, dozens of people advocated for band, music and the devastating effects that losing the band at Parrott could have on Hernando High School's Royale Regiment band, which receives most of its students from Parrott.

But Harrin's efforts have landed him in some hot water with Hernando High principal Leechele Booker.

After the May 6 board meeting, Booker gave Harrin, who served as the band director for both Hernando High and Parrott this past school year, a "letter of direction," reprimanding him for his actions.

"This letter of direction is being given to you for assembling a group of students and parents from (Hernando) to attend a school board meeting with the sole purpose of voicing a complaint about the assumed demise of the band program at (Parrott)," she wrote in a May 9 letter.

In her letter, Booker wrote that Harrin failed to follow proper procedures for lodging a complaint.

"Please keep in mind that you have an obligation to make reasonable precautions to distinguish between your personal views and views that negatively represent (Hernando High)," she said.

She said she was concerned that although most of the problems he mentioned related to Parrott, the majority of parents appeared to be from Hernando High.

Booker said Harrin also didn't provide parents with all available information, failing to mention that he could, in fact, continue to serve at both schools and that low band enrollment at Parrott precludes the school from needing a full-time instructor.

"Yet, you failed to share that with your parents and encouraged them to voice their concerns based on misinformation," she wrote.

In the future, she said, concerns of this type should be shared with school administrators first.

In a rebuttal letter, Harrin adamantly disagreed with the assessment and said Booker made inaccurate statements in her letter.

He said the purpose of the gathering was not to voice a complaint, but to request that the School Board reconsider Parrott's start and end times for the coming year.

"At no time was a formal complaint lodged against any individual by any speaker during the citizens input time," he said. "Any reference to the comments as a complaint would be a matter of opinion rather than fact."

He said he never wanted to split his time between the two schools but had agreed to work at both schools to give the Hernando County School District a chance to hire a high-quality director to take over Parrott's program.

He said the time changes in the school day at Parrott would make it impossible for him to work there without his family being affected. He said it would also damage both programs because of overlapping responsibilities.

He said band enrollment at Parrott has declined for many reasons, not simply because of a lack of interest. Many students would like to participate in band but can't because they are required to take remedial classes, he said.

"The accusation that I failed to inform parents of this and to describe it as 'misinformation' is personally offensive and wrong," Harrin wrote.

He also wrote that parents were not led to believe anything other than what was "abundantly clear to anyone involved with the Parrott band."

"The band has been shrinking over the past years, and I was told that if I did not work at both schools, then there would be no band at Parrott," he said. "This is not an 'assumed demise.' "

He has requested that the letter be removed from his file.

Tampa employment and labor attorney Cynthia Sass said a public employee who complains about something of public concern generally has a First Amendment right to do so and not be disciplined. She stressed that the issue would need to be of a public concern, not a private or personal concern.

She also said a person's identity as an employee of the district should not affect the employee's ability to voice concerns, so long as the person does not speak within the scope of his or her official duties.

Danny Valentine can be reached at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1432. Follow @HernandoTimes on Twitter.

Band director reprimanded for mobilizing Parrott Middle School band support 06/19/14 [Last modified: Thursday, June 19, 2014 4:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. New World Brewery is closing. Where will all its concerts go now?

    Blogs

    Ever since it was announced that New World Brewery was closing its beloved Ybor City location and relocating to a spot farther north, there’s been an outpouring of nostalgia from artists, promoters and fans throughout the Tampa Bay music scene.

    Allison Weiss performed at New World Brewery in 2015.
  2. Farewell, New World Brewery: 11 Tampa music scene regulars toast a beloved venue

    Blogs

    It's hard to put into words what New World Brewery has meant to the Tampa music scene over the past 22 years.

    Matt Burke and Have Gun, Will Travel, shown performing at New World Brewery in 2009. Burke credits the venue with shaping how the band wanted to develop.
  3. In dollars: How valuable are Florida's university football programs?

    Business

    The University of Florida football program is valued in a new study at $682 million, making it the most valuable university team in the state but still worth far less than several college programs topping $1 billion. Four years ago, UF's program was valued at just under $600 million.

    The University of Florida football program is valued at  $682 million, making it the most valuable by far in the Sunshine State. Pictured are UF cheerleaders leading the crowd in a Gator cheer on Clearwater Beach last December during the Outback Bowl Beach Day on Clearwater Beach. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  4. After 22 years, it's last call for beloved Ybor venue New World Brewery

    Music & Concerts

    YBOR CITY — Steve Bird spreads his tools across a patio table. He has awnings to unbolt and paraphernalia to unpry, from the busted Bop City neon by the stage to the Simpsons "El Duffo o Muerte" mural in the courtyard. He'll uproot a fountain and dismantle a roof and attempt to keep his bar intact. The …

    Various decor and memorabilia fill the walls and shelves at New World Brewery in Ybor City.
Long time music venue and hangout New World Brewery in Ybor City will be closing it's doors and moving locations. Patrons enjoy one of the last events before New World Brewery changes its location to Busch Blvd in Tampa.  [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  5. Brooksville man dies of injuries suffered in crash

    Accidents

    BROOKSVILLE — A Brooksville man died Thursday after he was ejected from his all-terrain vehicle after a crash, authorities said.