Thursday, May 24, 2018
Education

Hernando assistant superintendent told he won't be retained for 2014-15

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County School District administrator Ken Pritz is being let go after more than three decades with the district.

On June 9, superintendent Lori Romano advised Pritz, one of two assistant superintendents and a finalist to become superintendent last year, that he would not be recommended for reappointment for the 2014-15 school year.

The terse one-sentence letter is the latest development in what has been one of the biggest story lines — and the single-largest personnel shake-up — during Romano's first year in charge of the Hernando schools.

Both Romano and Pritz declined to comment.

Attorney Bruce Snow, who is representing Pritz, said the letter is further retaliation against Pritz, who filed a complaint with the district taking issue with Romano's actions.

"After 34 years of loyal and faithful service to the district, Mr. Pritz finds himself without a job unless the School Board grants him the relief he has requested," Snow said. "Pritz finds himself without a job because he had the integrity, the honesty, and the courage to challenge and report an action wherein his name was misappropriated for the purpose of sending a false, deceptive and misleading communication."

The saga began in December.

In an unexpected move, Romano relieved Pritz of his responsibilities for guiding instruction in the district and moved him to the distribution center, allowing him to keep his title and salary.

As the assistant superintendent overseeing teaching and learning, he made $101,725 this year.

In late May, Romano told Pritz that he would be the manager of warehouse and property control for the 2014-15 school year at a sizable pay cut to $61,453.20. If Pritz decided to not take the position, she wrote, she would not renew his contract.

In a letter of response June 5, Snow asked that Pritz be placed in the same position he held this past year with the same compensation. Romano's non-renewal letter followed shortly thereafter.

Pritz has contested his move from the beginning, exchanging letters through his lawyer and accusing the district of breaching his contract.

He's taken particular issue with a memo that was sent out on the day of his reassignment, which was sent from Pritz's email address, though not written by him. In part, the letter read: "I am excited about this opportunity and look forward to getting back to some of the work in which I was previously involved."

He said that's not true.

Pritz filed a complaint letter alleging that Romano violated School Board policy by sending that email. On June 10, an investigation by Tampa labor and employment lawyer Tammie L. Rattray found the email did not violate board policy.

While Rattray acknowledged it was not a best practice, she said there was no evidence that the memo was created or distributed for improper or personal gain. The inquiry was narrowly focused and didn't fully investigate Pritz' claims, Snow said. "It appears as no one has investigated the other matters," he said. "I don't think it's proper."

Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432. On Twitter: @HernandoTimes.

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