Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Three administrative appointments announced for Hernando schools

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School District announced three high-level administrative appointments Wednesday, including a new K-8 school principal, an interim high school principal and a new director of student services.

The decisions aren't short on intrigue.

Superintendent Bryan Blavatt appointed Mary-Grace Surrena to the student services position after a review committee said Surrena, a school psychologist, was the best person for the job.

Surrena previously had held the job for eight months, but lost it in May when Blavatt decided against reappointing her. He appointed Felita Lott, who left at the end of June to take a job in Pinellas County. The position was left vacant.

Surrena had been groomed for years to take over the director's position from Jim Knight, who retired in September 2011 after two decades in the job.

In June, he spoke out before the Hernando School Board in opposition to Blavatt's decision not to reappoint Surrena.

"I have never known of one administrator in this district that was demoted in less than one year," Knight said. "Prior to tonight, all were given a year to improve or placed in a different school or in a similar position."

Knight said Surrena had received nothing but excellent or outstanding evaluations.

Surrena said at the time she was planning on pursuing her legal options. And in a letter to the School Board and Blavatt, a lawyer for Surrena, Karen Gaffney, said that her client was wrongfully not reappointed and was discriminated against because of her gender.

Blavatt had said Surrena was "too nice" for the position and that "there was a perception out there that she was too soft," the letter said.

Blavatt said on Wednesday he was assured by his staff that Surrena was the best available candidate for the post.

"Obviously, the staff vetted her and made that decision," he said. "It's never been a situation involving my personal feelings or whatever. If she's the best person out there at the present time, then I've got to do it."

Surrena has been with the district for 24 years.

"I'm very excited to have the opportunity to serve the district in a leadership position again," she said.

Blavatt also made two high school principal announcements.

Retired principal Marvin Gordon will be the interim principal at Central High School, replacing retiring principal Joe Clifford as the district continues to look for a permanent replacement.

Clifford's last day is Jan. 26.

Blavatt again said he accepted the review committee's recommendation, which was to not recommend any of the 12 candidates who applied. They didn't name any finalists.

"It's not alarming," he said. "I think a lot of it is timing."

He said leaving midyear is more complicated, with many principals not wanting to exit their current schools.

The district will advertise the position again.

Gordon, who retired in 2011, was most recently a principal at Spring Hill Elementary and before that was a longtime principal at Parrott Middle School. He was also a Hernando High principal.

At Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics, assistant principal Michael Maine will take over for retiring principal Sue Stoops. He was one of three assistant principals with the school.

Danny Valentine can be reached at or (352) 848-1432. Tweet him @HernandoTimes.

Three administrative appointments announced for Hernando schools 12/19/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 8:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  2. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)
  3. Photo gallery: Nation pays respects to America's war dead on Memorial Day

    Human Interest

    At Memorial Day ceremonies in Tampa Bay area and around the country, Americans paid tribute to the men and women who gave their lives in service to their country.

    Eight-year-old Piper St. Jean, of Tampa, uses a brush to clean the grave of her grandfather, Henry St. Jean, who served with the United States Air Force during the Korean and Vietnam wars. at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens on Monday moments after the conclusion of their 31st annual Memorial Day Service on Monday (5/23/17) in Palm Harbor. The event featured guest speakers, live choral performances by the Palm Harbor United Methodist Church choir and live music by Bones South, an area trombone ensemble with rhythm section. On Saturday local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops placed flags on veterans???‚??„? graves prior to the event. This is an annual tradition of Curlew Hills' Memorial Day services and helps the Scout troops achieve merit badges. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.
  4. Protest sparks Texas lawmaker threats of gun violence


    AUSTIN, Texas — Hundreds of protesters opposing Texas' tough new anti-"sanctuary cities" law launched a raucous demonstration from the public gallery in the Texas House on Monday, briefly halting work and prompting lawmakers on the floor below to scuffle — and even threaten gun violence — as tense …

  5. Photo gallery: 20 mugshots of pro athletes arrested in Florida - 1994 to 2017


    In light of today's arrest of Tiger Woods in Jupiter, Florida on DUI charges, here are 20 booking mugs of professional athletes who have been arrested in Florida, from 1994 (Jennifer …

    Desmond Bryant - 2005 - Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Desmond Bryant was arrested in Miami on charges of criminal mischief after allegedly "going to a neighbor's house inebriated and causing a commotion."