Monday, May 21, 2018
Education

Hillsborough School Board votes on new ESE chief

TAMPA — Maryann Parks will be the next general director of the troubled Exceptional Student Education program for Hillsborough County public schools, pending a vote today by the School Board.

Board Chairwoman April Griffin said she was notified Monday of Parks' selection.

"She's been well-vetted, and she has a very strong background in ESE," Griffin said.

Parks, 56, joined the district in 1979 as an ESE teacher, said district spokesman Stephen Hegarty. She became an ESE specialist in 1988, a district resource teacher in ESE in 2001 and a supervisor in 2008.

If approved as general director, she will replace Joyce Wieland, who took a lateral transfer to another district job in December.

The district has spent the past several months responding to the deaths last year of two children in ESE, which serves 29,000 students.

Isabella Herrera, a 7-year-old with a neuromuscular disorder, died after suffering respiratory distress on a school bus in January 2012. Many School Board members did not know about the incident until her parents filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 1.

On Oct. 22, 11-year-old Jennifer Caballero, who had Down syndrome, wandered away from Rodgers Middle School in Riverview and drowned in a pond.

In response to the two deaths, superintendent MaryEllen Elia assembled a work group to improve safety for ESE students. Parks is one of the core members of that group.

Improvements in place or under way include mandatory safety training for all employees, safety videos for those who arrive midyear and standard procedures to address the issue of students who "elope," or run away.

Parks did not return a call Monday for comment.

The head of the district's ESE advisory council was happy to hear of Parks' pending promotion.

"I think it's a very good choice," said Ana Sanders, who chairs the panel of parents, district employees and service providers.

"She is very well-versed in all aspects of ESE. She knows her stuff. If you have a question, she has an answer for you right away."

School Board member Cindy Stuart said she is pleased with Parks' experience and credentials. According to the Florida Department of Education website, her four certifications include one in emotionally handicapped education.

"I'm glad we are appointing someone who has the qualifications," she said. "I think we've been kind of waiting and the division needs to move forward. We are moving in the right direction."

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected]

Comments
Eckerd College hosts a royal celebration of its own

Eckerd College hosts a royal celebration of its own

A day after England’s royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, St. Petersburg hosted a royal celebration of its own. Among the estimated 500 graduates to receive an Eckerd College diploma at Sunday’s graduation ceremony held...
Updated: 2 hours ago
At vigil, another school mourns: ‘It is hope in the face of tragedy that brings us together today.’

At vigil, another school mourns: ‘It is hope in the face of tragedy that brings us together today.’

SANTA FE, Texas - They gathered here by the dozens Friday evening, wearing their school colors, T-shirts that said "Texas Tough," while huddling under the shade of a gaggle of pine trees, not 11 hours after the first shots were fired.They came to pra...
Published: 05/19/18
‘I always felt it would eventually happen here’: A Santa Fe High School survivor’s reaction to the shooting

‘I always felt it would eventually happen here’: A Santa Fe High School survivor’s reaction to the shooting

Paige Curry tried to keep calm Friday morning as a gunman tore through her Santa Fe High School, eventually killing 10 people and injuring another 10. The 17-year-old watched as a girl nearby panicked. Curry, herself terrified, considered running out...
Published: 05/19/18
Class of 2018: Meet the valedictorians and salutatorians for Pinellas private high schools

Class of 2018: Meet the valedictorians and salutatorians for Pinellas private high schools

Before they could get away, we asked the top graduates at Pinellas County’s private schools to write a Twitter-length paragraph about what’s on their mind. We suggested they reflect on the past or the future, or talk about the people who helped them ...
Published: 05/18/18
Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

TAMPA — For those who fear there is no hope, or help, or heart left in this world, there is the story of Anita Morgan.There are any number of life-wrenching places to begin …In the middle of the night, in the back of a police car, cruising over the b...
Published: 05/18/18
Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

TAMPA — For those who fear there is no hope, or help, or heart left in this world, there is the story of Anita Morgan.There are any number of life-wrenching places to begin …In the middle of the night, in the back of a police car, cruising over the b...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Florida teacher accused of drowning raccoons in class placed on leave

Florida teacher accused of drowning raccoons in class placed on leave

A Florida teacher was placed on administrative leave after school officials were told that he had students help him drown wild raccoons during class.A 14-second video published by CBS affiliate WKMG showed a group of students filling a tub of water u...
Published: 05/17/18
The US spends less on children than almost any other developed nation

The US spends less on children than almost any other developed nation

The federal government now spends less than it did about 30 years ago on some of the country’s poorest children, the result of cuts to federal welfare programs, according to a new research paper.In 1990, the government spent about $8,700 on every chi...
Published: 05/17/18
Two gifts on graduation day: white Crocs, and a lesson that ‘it can’t hurt to ask’

Two gifts on graduation day: white Crocs, and a lesson that ‘it can’t hurt to ask’

ST. PETERSBURG — Sarah Agee and her friends never pictured themselves wearing Crocs to their graduation. But the foam shoes were comfortable, offered better footing than heels, and now the Seminole High seniors had a story to tell.It all started a li...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Romano: Instead of securing schools, lawmakers saved themselves

Romano: Instead of securing schools, lawmakers saved themselves

I said it two months ago, and it’s only become more obvious since then:The bipartisan school safety proposal passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor had more to do with protecting the rear ends of politicians than the lives of students.I...
Published: 05/16/18