Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Education

Principal ousted from Pasadena Fundamental Elementary mishandled school funds, Pinellas investigation finds

LARGO — Daniel L. Brennan, who resigned Feb. 8 as principal of Pasadena Fundamental Elementary School, falsified documents to cover up his mismanagement of funds from the school's Parent Teacher Association, a school district investigation has found.

A 112-page investigative report released this week details how Brennan, 43, changed his story several times and could not account for items purchased with the school PTA's money. The report also says he will pay back more than $2,300 in unaccounted for funds.

According to documents, the PTA gave Brennan money to buy a $2,700, 15-inch MacBook Pro to be used in the school's gifted program, but he never made the purchase and fabricated an invoice to cover up his actions. He also was personally reimbursed by the PTA for a $579 camera lens that was paid for with district discretionary funds, the documents say.

In addition, the PTA wrote checks payable to Brennan for a steam cleaner valued at $797, a pressure washer valued at $649 and a wireless router valued at $89.99, but the items were never found on the school's campus. A $200 Apple TV and a $342 Go Pro camera issued to Brennan by the PTA were found at his home after being reported as lost.

Brennan told investigators he had been diagnosed with an undisclosed medical condition that could leave him in a wheelchair within 10 years and said his medication causes him to be "foggy" and forget. He said his wife, Shannon Brennan, a principal at Mildred Helms Elementary, did not know of his diagnosis.

Brennan, who resigned with the reason listed as "illness," agreed to have the school district withhold $2,334 from his termination pay to repay the school's PTA. He also gave back $580 in cash to the PTA.

Brennan, who served as Pasadena Fundamental's principal for five years, did not respond to requests for comment.

Pinellas County School District spokeswoman Lisa Wolf said any criminal charges against Brennan would be left up to the PTA because Brennan mismanaged PTA dollars, not money from the school district.

Brennan resigned from the school district in lieu of termination, according to the report, and was marked as to not be rehired.

Wolf said the investigation's findings were forwarded to the Florida Department of Education's Office of Professional Practices Services.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said no one has brought forward a complaint against Brennan.

Neither Andi Fuller, who is listed as the president of Pasadena Fundamental's PTA, nor the president of the Pinellas County Council of Parent Teacher Associations president, Jessica Summers, responded to requests for comment.

Florida PTA president Cindy Gerhardt said it was within the local PTA's right to press charges against Brennan, but said she did not know what the local unit would do. She called the incident "troubling."

"The PTA could've actually bought (the items). That should've been the proper way to do it," she said. "I think there was blind trust. They must've had a good relationship with him and just did not think he would be capable of doing that."

"This was not something that happened by accident," Gerhardt added. "It does seem there was intent, and it was well thought out on (Brennan's) part."

Contact Colleen Wright at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643. Follow @Colleen_Wright.

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