Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas school board picks an interim superintendent

Pinellas County School Board members on Tuesday voted unanimously to fire superintendent Julie Janssen.

Finding a temporary replacement was another story.

Board members voted 5-2 to direct board chair Carol Cook and School Board attorney Jim Robinson to begin contract negotiations with John Stewart, a former Pinellas deputy superintendent.

Board members Linda Lernerand Terry Krassner voted against the motion, saying they have no problem with Stewart, but want to consider other candidates, especially since, by some estimates, the interim might run the district for as long as nine months.

Lerner said the quick decision signals the opposite of the collaborative spirit board members have touted for months.

"If," she said, "the board, at this board table, (does this) without due diligence, deliberation, discussion, without opening up the process to have a process for the interim, you know what? You're not doing your job, in my opinion."

Stewart, who lives in Winter Haven, said on Tuesday he's not surprised by the division.

"When you have a seven person board, there's going to be multiple opinions about anything," he said.

Stewart, 67, holds a doctorate in education from Florida Atlantic University and served as Polk County superintendent from 1983 to 1996. He retired with more than 30 years of public service and currently draws $9,068 in monthly retirement pay, according to the Florida Department of Management Services.

After leaving Polk, Stewart went on to work as deputy commissioner of educational programs at the state Department of Education for two years.

In 2000, he became then Pinellas superintendent Howard Hinesley's No. 2. He held the spot until 2003 when he left to help run the Florida High School Athletic Association, according to his resume.

"He brings knowledge of Pinellas County schools as well as time away from Pinellas County schools," said Cook, who likes the political distance that suggests.

Stewart said he hopes to meet with Cook and Robinson Thursday or Friday. And he didn't close the door on the possibility of putting his name in the hat for the permanent position.

That's what worries Krassner.

She said Hinesley, one of her mentors, once told her that it's easier to attract candidates for a superintendent vacancy if there isn't someone already filling in who is also in the running.

For that reason, Krassner suggested Tuesday that district administrator Charlene Einsel be the temporary replacement.

"It would be truly an acting," Krassner said. "She would not be interested in the (permanent) job."

Hinesley, who retired in 2004 after a 14-year tenure, agreed that having an interim without long-term, full-time dreams is an advantage.

Still, he called Stewart an "outstanding administrator, a man of integrity. A man of faith. A level-headed guy who has a lot of experience having been teacher, school administrator, deputy, commissioner."

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at (727) 893-8707 or

Pinellas County School Superintendents

Dixie M. Hollins, 1912-1920

Robert S. Blanton, 1920-1928

George M. Lynch, 1928-1935

George M. Hoffman, 1935-1936

Green V. Fuguitt, 1936-1948

Floyd T. Christian, 1948-1965

Paul D. Bauder, 1965-1966

James F. Gollattscheck, 1966-1967

Thomas B. Southard, 1967-1971

Nicholas G. Mangin, 1971-1972

Gus Sakkis, 1972-1981

Scott N. Rose, 1981-1991

J. Howard Hinesley, 1991-2004

Clayton M. Wilcox, 2004-2008

Julie M. Janssen, 2008-present

Pinellas school board picks an interim superintendent 08/23/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 12:22am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.