Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas schools chief tries to focus on back-to-school; classes start Monday

With television cameras pointed at her Wednesday during a back-to-school news conference, there were things Pinellas County superintendent Julie Janssen wanted to talk about.

For example, the expansion of the academically rigorous International Baccalaureate programs. A new science, technology and math curriculum. And the activities planned for the district's 100th birthday.

But eventually the questions turned to Tuesday — the day the Pinellas School Board is expected to vote on whether to terminate its $200,000 contract with Janssen.

Her response to questions about her future: "For now, I have one job to do. It's to get school started, get teachers in every classroom, get the right teachers, the right administrators in every school."

More than 101,000 Pinellas students head back to school on Monday.

Janssen declined to talk in detail about her status, ceding the microphone to board member Peggy O'Shea, her most loyal supporter and the only member present Wednesday.

O'Shea listed the options presented to the board: dismiss with cause, dismiss without cause, or negotiate a settlement.

"Or," O'Shea said as almost an afterthought, "to continue employment, of course."

While board members have not publicly stated their preference, several outlined persistent concerns in evaluations of Janssen this week.

Board members Terry Krassner, Linda Lerner and Robin Wikle submitted evaluations of Janssen on eight standards, including leadership, communication and curriculum planning and development.

"Dr. Janssen has been given many opportunities for improvement," wrote Linda Lerner, "but has not shown a recognition or understanding of the need to improve. She has a tendency to blame others and fails to take personal responsibility or effective action when faced with constructive criticism."

Despite her critique, Lerner called Janssen "hardworking, very knowledgeable" and dedicated to student success.

Among the issues Wikle cited: Janssen's decision to extend employment for high-ranking administrators after they retire, her lack of communication with the board and employees and two attempts in two years to hold off surveying employees about their job conditions despite a board request that such a climate survey be conducted.

O'Shea said she didn't give Janssen any ratings less than "meets expectations."

Board members Janet Clark and Lew Williams said they were still working on their evaluations. Chairwoman Carol Cook said she didn't expect to have hers done before Tuesday.

At Wednesday's news conference at Countryside High School in Clearwater, Janssen described what she believes to be her successes since taking over the district in 2008: slashing a budget with minimal harm to classrooms, raising graduation rates, involving more students in advanced courses and implementing a strong professional development program.

In retrospect, Janssen said, she could have pushed harder to improve academic achievement during her first year. "When you step into the position I'm in now, it's almost like moving a barge," Janssen said. "And it takes a lot more time. Lots of retirements happen. Lots of new people come in."

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at rcatalanello@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8707.

Pinellas schools chief tries to focus on back-to-school; classes start Monday 08/17/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 11:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees

    Politics

    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  4. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact

    World

    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.
  5. Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Russia's ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, current and former U.S. …

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation after meetings with an ambassador were revealed.