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. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.


    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) takes the field to start the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  2. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest


    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]
  3. Mueller casts broad net in requesting extensive records from Trump White House


    WASHINGTON — The special counsel investigating Russian election meddling has requested extensive records and email correspondence from the White House, covering the president's private discussions about firing his FBI director and his response to news that the then-national security adviser was under …

    In a photograph provided by the Russian foreign ministry, President Donald Trump meets with Sergei Lavrov, left, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, May 10, 2017. Special counsel Robert Mueller is interested in this meeting, where Trump said dismissing FBI Director James Comey had relieved "great pressure" on him, the New York Times reported on Sept. 20. [Russian Foreign Ministry via  New York Times]
  4. 'We will find our island destroyed': Hurricane Maria demolishes Puerto Rico


    SAN JUAN — Sleepless Puerto Ricans awoke Wednesday knowing to expect a thrashing from the most ferocious storm to strike the island in at least 85 years. They met nightfall confronting the ruin Hurricane Maria left behind: engorged rivers, blown-out windows, sheared roofs, toppled trees and an obliterated electric …

    Rescue vehicles from the Emergency Management Agency stand trapped under an awning during the impact of Hurricane Maria, after the storm  hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria has lost its major hurricane status, after raking Puerto Rico. But forecasters say some strengthening is in the forecast and Maria could again become a major hurricane by Thursday. [Carlos Giusti | Associated Press]
  5. Obamacare repeal bill offers flexibility and uncertainty


    The latest Republican proposal to undo the Affordable Care Act would grant states much greater flexibility and all but guarantee much greater uncertainty for tens of millions of people.