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Hernando school board discovers superintendent Wayne Alexander is looking elsewhere for work — again

BROOKSVILLE — It seems Hernando County school superintendent Wayne Alexander is still looking for work in New England.

School officials in Massachusetts confirmed Thursday that he is one of three finalists to become superintendent of the Brockton Public Schools in suburban Boston. The news comes on the heels of a call for Alexander's firing by the Hernando teachers' union.

Alexander declined to comment Thursday on his latest job hunt.

But two members of the Hernando County School Board, James Yant and Pat Fagan, told the St. Petersburg Times they were surprised by the news. Both said it appeared Alexander had violated his contract by failing to notify them he was seeking work for next fall.

"As a result of him breaching (his contract,) he's showing exactly where he stands," said Yant. "His interest is not in this county, and the children are the ones who are suffering.

"The best thing is for him to move on," he added. "I think there's a likelihood we could propose his dismissal. I could support that. But I don't know if we have three votes."

Members John Sweeney, Sandra Nicholson and Chairwoman Dianne Bonfield could not be reached for comment.

It's not the first time Alexander has been caught in a quiet job search.

In February, word leaked out that he was a finalist to lead the Framingham (Mass.) Public Schools. Both Yant and former member Jim Malcolm said they hadn't known of that job search until shortly before he was short-listed for the post.

Under the terms of his contract, Alexander must notify board members in writing "of any efforts to seek other employment," including sending out resumes or letters of interest. Failure to do so constitutes a violation, and the board can terminate Alexander's contract without paying severance.

Board members had been prepared to discuss that apparent violation when Alexander announced he would resign in order to join his new wife and family, who were locked in a contentious custody battle in Connecticut. He reversed himself a week later and said he was committed to remaining in Hernando until his contract expires in June 2010.

"The reality is, we live in a world that has contracts, professional commitments," he said in February, vowing to remain in the district until his contract expires in June 2010. "I need to honor (my contract) and commitment."

Now it appears he has reversed himself once again. Brockton school officials say they need a leader this summer to replace the retiring Basan Nembirkow. On Tuesday, the district named Alexander as a finalist, along with candidates from Nevada and Easton, Mass., according to the Enterprise newspaper in Brockton.

That was the same day the Hernando Classroom Teachers' Association union adopted a resolution calling on the School Board to dismiss Alexander. The union blamed Alexander for what it described as plummeting morale in the district, and said he was ignoring budget realities and playing favorites in moving to terminate around 200 teachers and support staff this spring.

Union president Joe Vitalo said the HCTA considers the question of contract breach, whether in February or April, to remain on the table.

"The question was never closed about whether it was a violation," he said. "By any interpretation, it seems the question is still open."

For board member Pat Fagan, the latest job search feels like the final straw.

He said he plans to ask the board Tuesday to take a new vote on the staffing plan that resulted in teacher and administrative non-reappointments, which he previously supported in a 3-2 vote. He said he'd support the idea of waiting until the state budget picture is clear, and laying off staff over the summer if necessary.

"At that time we didn't know what kind of money we were going to be receiving from the state or the federal government," Fagan said. "It changes things completely."

And he said he would support efforts to move beyond the Alexander era.

"I personally am tired of looking like an ass," Fagan said. "That's how I feel. I'm ready to move on."

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3400.

Hernando school board discovers superintendent Wayne Alexander is looking elsewhere for work — again 04/16/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 16, 2009 8:00pm]

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