LAND O'LAKES — She's back.
And Pasco School Board member Cathi Martin intends to remain at least through the end of her third term, which expires in 2010.
"I missed it," Martin said, shortly after arriving for a 2 p.m. workshop Tuesday. "I walked in through the door and it felt natural. I'm really glad to be here."
Martin returned to active duty after a month of missed meetings, a resignation announcement and an abrupt turnaround. Three local lawmakers also called upon Gov. Charlie Crist to remove Martin from office, citing a pattern of absences dating to her 2006 re-election.
That request remains on the books. Martin said a staffer from the governor's office told her during a recent phone call that her status is a "high priority" for Crist and that his legal staff was looking into it.
"They wanted to know exactly what was wrong with me," she said. "When they see the letter, they'll know."
In a letter to Crist, dated April 16, Martin stated that her "health problems and other personal issues" including "surgeries with complications" led to many of her absences.
These included lower back surgery, multiple arthroscopies, a right knee replacement, hemorrhoid surgery, a double compound fracture of both leg bones, knee dislocation, four broken toes and several falls.
"Throughout all of this, there were multiple medications that conflicted with each other," she wrote. "Finally, the right dosages were found and administered."
Martin said she decided to resign after being criticized for missing a March meeting where a teacher's fate hung in the balance. She wanted to make life easier on her family, she explained.
"It was a really bad time in my life," Martin said. "I was in a lot of pain."
Shortly after her plan to quit became public, though, the calls came asking her to stick it out.
"They said, 'Please don't resign,' " she recalled. Party politics did not play a part in her decision, said Martin, a Democrat.
She went to her doctor, who adjusted her medicines and cleared her to drive.
"He gave me a clean bill of health," she said. "I'm doing everything I need to do. It's great to be back."
Now, Martin said, she's just "waiting to see" how the governor responds to her explanation about her absences. She noted that the process to remove her could run well past her re-election date.
Would she run again?
"That's a year and a half away," Martin said. "I don't know."
Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.