Saturday, January 20, 2018
Education

Reported ouster of Tarpon High assistant principal rallies parents, students to his side

TARPON SPRINGS — A popular Tarpon Springs High School assistant principal will lose his job next month, sparking outrage from students and parents.

Wayne McKnight, who worked at the school for about a decade, was told his annual contract would not be renewed and that his last day was June 25.

The Pinellas County school district would not give a reason. Messages left for principal Clint Herbic were not returned.

McKnight was told he could apply for a similar position at other Pinellas County schools, he said. He is speaking with an attorney.

"I'm extremely upset and I'm extremely emotional," McKnight said Tuesday. "I am disappointed to leave a school and a community that I adore."

McKnight, 51, served as Tarpon's assistant principal for activities and had worked more than 10 seasons as the school's athletic director.

He was a constant presence in the school's halls and on its sporting fields, and was known for his friendliness with students of every class.

"He is at every single sports event, band, choir, culinary," said Tarpon senior Katie Badger. "He lives at the school. It's his second home. It's really sad to see someone who cares about his job not be able to come back."

McKnight transferred to Tarpon from East Lake High School in 2003, where he had worked as an athletic director for about two years. He began working with the county schools in the late 1980s as an English teacher at Gibbs High School. Between 1987 and 1996, he also wrote sports stories as a correspondent for the Tampa Bay Times.

Word of McKnight's departure exploded across Facebook, where more than 2,300 people joined a group called, "Keep Mr. Mc­Knight at Tarpon High."

On the group's wall, one girl wrote, "He has put hundreds of hours into our program, and I just don't think he should be lost without a fight."

Rumors also spread about an unannounced cause for the split, which some blamed on personal tension and power clashes between principal Herbic and McKnight.

One woman told the Times a group of parents would host a meeting Wednesday night to rally support for McKnight, while others sounded a call to send messages of support to the school district.

Superintendent John Stewart had a meeting scheduled with McKnight for this morning.

During McKnight's tenure at Tarpon High, he met individually with hundreds of lower-performing students to prepare them for the FCAT. He also chaperoned students to Indianapolis for a national band competition.

"He's one of the most personable, understanding, honest members of the administrative staff, and he loves his job," one student wrote on Facebook. "Dude deserves to keep it."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or [email protected] Send letters to the editor at tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

ST. PETERSBURG — Holding a piece of computer paper and a microphone, the leader of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg began a Friday afternoon forum by repeating the USF administration’s new mantra.He reassured the crowd before him that t...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Crews Lake thespians overcome the odds

SPRING HILL — It’s 8:30 a.m. — "homeroom" period in school speak — when kids in the Crews Lake Middle School drama club file into an empty chorus room to begin rehearsing under the direction of language arts teacher Kristen Sykora. There’s only 25 m...
Published: 01/19/18
Cuts hit top school leaders as Hillsborough sheds three six-figure salaries

Cuts hit top school leaders as Hillsborough sheds three six-figure salaries

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins on Friday announced the first in a series of belt-tightening moves that include the elimination of three six-figure positions.Jobs now held by Wynne Tye and Larry Sykes will no longer exis...
Published: 01/19/18
Tampa Bay schools warn parents about flu activity, dangers

Tampa Bay schools warn parents about flu activity, dangers

The Florida Department of Health has reported a sharp increase in flu activity in the last several weeks, prompting area schools to send out letters warning parents about the virus. At least two districts, however, say that flu activity in their scho...
Published: 01/19/18

More than 400 apply to Pasco technical high school

School choice for 2018-19 is in full swing, and district officials said they’ve been pleased with the interest they’ve seen so far.The window for applying to the district’s magnet schools closed Jan. 12, except for applications for the new Wendell Kr...
Published: 01/18/18
Read the report on the fatal FSU frat party: ‘The most intoxicated’ they had ever been

Read the report on the fatal FSU frat party: ‘The most intoxicated’ they had ever been

"On Nov. 3, 2017, the Tallahassee Police Department responded to 1012 Buena Vista Drive … in reference to a death investigation."So begins a charging document in the case of Andrew Coffey, the 20-year-old Florida State University student who was foun...
Published: 01/18/18
In St. Petersburg, skeptics sneer at plan to concentrate USF power in Tampa

In St. Petersburg, skeptics sneer at plan to concentrate USF power in Tampa

In the state capitol on Wednesday, lawmakers breezed through the bullet points of a higher education bill. They skimmed past a hot-button proposal to consolidate the University of South Florida System into a single university without a peep of pushba...
Published: 01/18/18
Five things to know about teacher pay negotiations in Hillsborough

Five things to know about teacher pay negotiations in Hillsborough

TAMPA — They were hoping to receive between $15 million and $17 million in scheduled pay raises. But the Hillsborough County school district says it can’t afford to give its teachers anywhere near that much, while the teachers say they deserve nothin...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18
Young Pasco teacher faces cancer with support of students

Young Pasco teacher faces cancer with support of students

NEW PORT RICHEY — At age 28, things were really shaping up for Joel Santos-Gonzalez. Fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher, he had just completed his third year at Gulf Middle School."I always liked to talk to people on an intellectual ...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18
In Pinellas and beyond, deadlines for school choice are closing in

In Pinellas and beyond, deadlines for school choice are closing in

It’s decision time in Pinellas County and other local school districts as several school choice deadlines are upon us.For Pinellas families who want to apply for a magnet, fundamental or high school career program for the 2018-19 school year, the dea...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18