Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Education

Hernando school superintendent weakened by way assistant was demoted

If you work in a school system and go from leading the division of teaching and learning to running the warehouse, it's not a promotion.

If you get a memo that says "your actions have been counterproductive to the current direction of the school district," you can be sure you aren't in for a lateral career move.

If that same memo says you will be "housed at" a certain building rather than "based out of" it or "working from" it, the point of the coming transfer is not to diversify your resume; "housed" is a word for criminals and conscripts.

Does it matter that Ken Pritz kept his salary and his title as assistant superintendent when Hernando schools superintendent Lori Romano abruptly reassigned him last week? Yes, a little. But it matters more that he was forced to take a job of lesser importance that he didn't want.

That's what made this a demotion. And when Romano insisted that it wasn't, she came off looking, I hate to say it, a little less than honest.

There's another memo to talk about, another shadow on Romano's credibility.

This was the letter to district employees from Pritz but, as it turns out, not from Pritz.

Romano acknowledged that she wrote it, which means she not only falsified his name at the top, the one identifying him as the author, but his feelings about his new job: "I am excited about this opportunity . . . "

Romano also said that this memo wasn't totally her own work, that Pritz's secretary helped her put it together — shifting part of the blame onto someone who surely couldn't have added so much as a comma without Romano's approval.

It's not fair to the secretary, and none of this is fair to Pritz.

I'm not talking about the reassignment itself, because those of us outside the district have no way of knowing whether that was justified or not.

Was Pritz unprepared to help make Hernando, as Romano expects, a perennial A district? Is some of the technology needed to make this progress, as Romano said in an interview, "a very foreign concept to (Pritz)"?

I don't know that, either. I just know he deserved better. He deserved a written warning and, if his performance truly was deficient, a chance to correct it. He deserved the time to send his own message to his co-workers, or at least the right not to send one at all.

Pritz has worked in the district for more than 33 years, doing a number of jobs (including, as Romano said, one very similar to his new assignment) and doing them well enough to be considered for superintendent three times. The dignity he showed when he was passed over earned him a lot of respect. So did pulling Hernando High School out of its deepest trough in memory, bringing its state grade from a D to a B.

A superintendent spends political capital demoting someone this well regarded and well liked. By doing it the way she did it, Romano squandered a whole lot more.

I worry about this, especially if it's a sign of Romano's style and of things to come, because she's otherwise shown herself to be smart, sophisticated and ambitious. She's shown more promise to do good things in this district than any superintendent in memory, and I worry that moves like this one might stop her short of her goals.

Because there's no doubt about it: Ken Pritz is in a less powerful position than he was a week ago. And so is Romano.

Comments
Pasco SRO under investigation after video shows takedown of student

Pasco SRO under investigation after video shows takedown of student

LAND O’LAKES — An investigation continues after a video surfaced on Tuesday that shows a Sunlake High School school resource officer wrestling a female student to the ground while taking her into custody, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Offic...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Hillsborough’s Eakins gets high praise for finances, mixed reviews on other issues in his annual School Board evaluations

Hillsborough’s Eakins gets high praise for finances, mixed reviews on other issues in his annual School Board evaluations

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins is proud of his record in boosting high school graduation rates and inroads he has made in marketing the nation’s eight largest school district.His seven bosses on the School Board...
Published: 04/25/18
Sarasota student, family apologize for racist ‘promposal’

Sarasota student, family apologize for racist ‘promposal’

The family of the 18-year-old Sarasota high school student under fire for the racist prom proposal he sent out on social media this weekend has publicly apologized for their son’s actions. They also said that as a result of his actions, he wil...
Updated: 4 hours ago
SRO being investigated in Pasco County for arrest of student

SRO being investigated in Pasco County for arrest of student

LAND O’LAKES — A school resource officer at Sunlake High School is under investigation after he tried to take a female student into custody on Tuesday, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.School officials asked the SRO remove the student f...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Battle continues over west Pasco school rezoning

Jim Stanley does not give up without a fight.The west Pasco County parent who brought down the school district’s 2017 attendance zone revisions, leading the administration to change its procedures along the way, has filed a new challenge to the syst...
Published: 04/24/18
Crews Lake eighth-grader already capable musician

Crews Lake eighth-grader already capable musician

SPRING HILL — Rose Dodd, 2 months old, couldn’t yet grasp a rattle, but there she was years ago at hand-bell choir practice at Keystone United Methodist Church in Odessa.Rose, 14, a Crews Lakes Middle School eighth-grader, is back at hand-bell practi...
Published: 04/24/18
Hillsborough: No way we can afford teacher raises this year

Hillsborough: No way we can afford teacher raises this year

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District is in bad financial shape and its reputation for sound management is perhaps undeserved, the district’s own fiscal team testified Monday in a hearing concerning teacher salaries.The district "made finan...
Published: 04/23/18

School news for April 27

School Calendar• May 17-20: High school graduations• May 25: Last day of school for studentsBriefs• School Safety Town Hall Meetings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. May 2 at River Ridge Middle/High, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey and 6 to 8 p....
Published: 04/23/18
A Florida school shooting suspect charged with terrorism says ‘sorry’ to injured student

A Florida school shooting suspect charged with terrorism says ‘sorry’ to injured student

The young man in a white jail jumpsuit, handcuffed and shackled, looked past the throng of reporters pointing microphones toward his face, barely opening his mouth as he answered questions."I shot through the door," he said, looking at a female repor...
Published: 04/21/18
After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

TAMPA — Confronted in late 2017 with reports of misconduct by substitute teachers hired through a contractor, Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins said he would ask tough questions and demand answers. He had his lawyer, Jeff Gibson, ...
Published: 04/21/18