Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas schools to investigate administrator's role in hiring of daughter's boyfriend

LARGO — The Pinellas County School District will investigate a troubled administrator who played a role in the hiring and employment of her daughter's boyfriend.

Janet Hernandez was the director of professional development last school year when she helped hire Michael Hernandez (the same last name is a coincidence) for a special teaching job at Gibbs High School. District officials told the St. Petersburg Times for a Sept. 21 story that she did not disclose the close, personal nature of their relationship.

Schools spokeswoman Andrea Zahn said in an initial e-mail Monday that there was no pending investigation. About an hour later, after the Times asked why no investigation was planned, Zahn sent a second e-mail, saying she had a chance to talk with deputy superintendent Jim Madden.

"He has had an opportunity to confer with staff and review relevant information and has decided that his office will investigate the handling of the matter in question," she wrote.

School Board chairwoman Janet Clark, reached after the initial e-mail, said she assumed there would be an investigation — and that there needs to be one.

"If it were a teacher, if it were anyone else, there would be an investigation," Clark said. "Maybe we are wrong. Maybe there was nothing inappropriate about (Janet Hernandez's role). But … an investigation would tell us."

Michael Hernandez, who had been dating Janet Hernandez's daughter for at least two years, was a highly regarded science teacher in Hillsborough County when he wrote to her, seeking an administrative job in Pinellas. As head of professional development, Janet Hernandez oversaw the process Pinellas uses to determine who can be an assistant principal.

Janet Hernandez wrote a reference letter for Michael Hernandez and contacted another reference on the district's behalf. The Gibbs job he landed was considered an extension of the professional development office. It was not posted for applications.

Records show Janet Hernandez later signed off on three part-time jobs for him.

Board policy bars employees from holding employment relationships that create conflict between "his/her private interests and the performance of his/her public duties."

Michael Hernandez is now an assistant principal at Northeast High.

Janet Hernandez's job is in flux. Superintendent Julie Janssen, who knows Janet Hernandez from graduate school, wrote her a glowing recommendation when she applied to work for the district in 2008. But employees in professional development said she created a climate of fear and chaos. Janssen removed her over the summer and recommended she become director of dropout prevention. But the School Board shot down that move on a 5-2 vote.

Janssen is now recommending that Janet Hernandez become a program specialist in special education, working out of Richard L. Sanders School in Pinellas Park. That job was not posted, either.

"We don't always post all positions, particularly when we are seeking alternative placements," said Harriet Konstantinidis, the interim assistant superintendent for human resources. "In this situation, the directive was to seek an alternative placement for Dr. Hernandez."

The School Board will vote on the new job Oct. 12.

Ron Matus can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8873.

Pinellas schools to investigate administrator's role in hiring of daughter's boyfriend 09/27/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 9:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest


    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other


    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.