Saturday, February 24, 2018
Education

Pasco School Board seeks independent counsel on superintendent complaints

LAND O'LAKES — A retired principal's complaints about Superintendent Heather Fiorentino's administration will be handed over to an independent counsel to determine if any board policies were violated.

School Board members voted unanimously Tuesday evening to allow school district attorney Dennis Alfonso to hire someone to look into Barbara Munz's allegations that some employees felt threatened, intimidated and strong armed into supporting Fiorentino's campaign.

Fiorentino, who faces a re-election challenge on Aug. 14 from former Secretary of State Kurt Browning and Moon Lake handyman Kenneth Benson, called the vote "purely political."

"They're just trying to help their friend," said Fiorentino, referring to Browning, who has drawn support from some board members and school employees.

Fiortenino said she was ambushed, as no one told her the topic was coming up at Tuesday's meeting.

"I have not seen any documents," she said. "I have not seen any charges."

Alfonso said there is no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing, only questions about possible policy violations. One complaint, about the transfer of a district administrator to an assistant principal's job, was taken off the table as the superintendent has that authority and the staffer resigned.

Alfonso said the other allegations, if they are true, could constitute a violation of the district's campaign policy and its civility policy. He said the allegations don't directly involve Fiorentino, but are "related to the superintendent." A newly approved board policy says that such cases should be assigned to independent counsel to investigate.

Alfonso called the situation "awkward" and said since Munz's complaints earlier this month, the district had received letters and calls from other people.

Board chairwoman Joanne Hurley declined to comment on Fiorentino's accusations that the move was political.

Alfonso said he did not know how long the investigation might take. He recommended the board authorize him to hire Thomas Gonzalez, who has been an attorney for the Hillsborough County School District. The cost would be about $175 per hour.

Comments
Special Olympians shine at county summer games

Special Olympians shine at county summer games

NEW PORT RICHEY — It was one of those perfect days, when sunscreen and shade are in high demand, smiles are aplenty and the camaraderie on the field trumps the thrill of victory.About 600 Special Olympians and unified athletes from west Pasco schools...
Published: 02/23/18
Pasco foundation battling childhood hunger one school at a time

Pasco foundation battling childhood hunger one school at a time

ZEPHRYHILLS — On a Thursday morning in a small warehouse off Gall Boulevard, a well-oiled machine of goodwill is cranking. At the Thomas Promise Foundation, volunteers Carlos and Robin Clothier, pack boxes of macaroni and cheese, granola bars, apple ...
Published: 02/23/18
After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — The mayor and the police chief came to Northeast High on Thursday to warn students about the dangers of circulating rumors of school safety threats on social media.While they were there, one of those unfounded rumors popped up on Fac...
Published: 02/22/18
Collards, ribs and Kool-Aid: Black History Month menu at NYU stirs controversy

Collards, ribs and Kool-Aid: Black History Month menu at NYU stirs controversy

NEW YORK — On Tuesday, a dining hall at New York University advertised a special meal in honor of Black History Month. On the menu? Barbecue ribs, cornbread, collard greens, and two beverages with racist connotations: Kool-Aid and watermelon-flavored...
Published: 02/22/18
Arming teachers? Some officials like the idea, but many educators don’t (w/video)

Arming teachers? Some officials like the idea, but many educators don’t (w/video)

With high school students from Parkland in the Capitol this week advocating for gun control, the bill that would have allowed superintendents and principals to designate trained employees who can carry concealed weapons at school didn’t get heard as ...
Published: 02/22/18
How will Douglas High students go back to class? There’s now a plan in place.

How will Douglas High students go back to class? There’s now a plan in place.

When students return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High for the first time next Tuesday, they will be greeted by additional counselors and law enforcement."There will be a plethora of counselors and services at the school," Broward Schools Superintende...
Published: 02/21/18
School shooter may get inheritance — and be ordered to spend it on legal bills

School shooter may get inheritance — and be ordered to spend it on legal bills

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz appears to have been in line for a sizable inheritance. He’ll never get to spend it — except perhaps on defense attorneys.The amount could be enough to compel a judge to order him to hire a private lawyer, rather ...
Published: 02/21/18
Pasco County schools, dealing with threats, warn students of consequences

Pasco County schools, dealing with threats, warn students of consequences

DADE CITY — A Pasco High School student was taken into custody Tuesday amid accusations of threatening violence against the school. The campus was not at risk, school district officials said. But they made clear they take each threat seriously, and t...
Published: 02/21/18
‘Blind Side’ star delivers message to Newsome High kids

‘Blind Side’ star delivers message to Newsome High kids

LITHIA — Students, faculty and staff recently scurried inside the Newsome High School gym for a morning assembly to hear a message about bullying from a man who kids once taunted.Newsome’s principal Carla Bruning invited actor Quinton Aaron, star of ...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Spoto High helps students un-bottle emotions with Challenge Day

Spoto High helps students un-bottle emotions with Challenge Day

RIVERVIEW — Spoto High School English Department Head Adam Sherman can’t help but wonder if a program he introduced to Spartan students could have changed the trajectory of Nickolas Cruz’s life before he gunned down and killed 17 people on Valentine’...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/23/18