LAND O'LAKES — As the news has spread of his dismissal, Pasco schools assistant superintendent Ray Gadd has received an outpouring of support — including the backing of one of the county's most well-known and respected political leaders: Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning.
In a personal e-mail to superintendent Heather Fiorentino, Browning urged her to reconsider her decision to drop Gadd.
Browning wrote that he felt compelled to weigh in on this political matter, something he generally attempts to avoid.
"Although I recognize your authority as superintendent of schools to make such a decision," he wrote to Fiorentino, "I was shocked, to say the least, when I read of his dismissal."
Like so many others, Browning pointed to Gadd's role in winning passage of the Penny for Pasco sales tax, which generated millions of dollars to help the district build more than a dozen schools needed to ease serious crowding. He also noted Gadd's dedication to and passion for Pasco schools over the course of 28 years.
"Ray's commitment to our students, both former and current, has not gone unnoticed by our entire Pasco County community. He cares about our county and our school system but more importantly, he cares for our students," Browning wrote.
"Heather, you know I don't work for the district but as a native resident of Pasco County and one that is deeply concerned about the future of our children, I would encourage you to reconsider your decision of not reappointing Ray Gadd."
Fiorentino declined through a spokeswoman to speak about her decision, though she did agree to forward Browning's e-mail, which was sent from his personal Yahoo account. She has not said whether she will talk about the matter Tuesday, when School Board members are expected to grill her over the move.
Gadd is scheduled to be on vacation next week but said he might return from his travels to attend the meeting.
Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.