Friday, May 25, 2018
Education

Zephyrhills High staff lobby for principal's return

ZEPHYRHILLS — An investigation into the conduct of Zephyrhills High School principal Steve Van Gorden continued Tuesday, with no resolution or recommendation planned until later in the week, superintendent Heather Fiorentino said.

That did not stop several staff and faculty members at the school from beginning a letter writing campaign calling for Van Gorden's quick return. He has been on paid leave since Oct. 19, pending the outcome of a review of unspecified accusations against him.

"Under his leadership we have all experienced his unique ability to bring the school and community together in a way like we have never seen," the guidance staff wrote in an email. "The rapport he has established between our school, students, parents and community should be a model for our district."

History teacher Judy Walker wrote that she travels an hour to Zephyrhills daily to work with Van Gorden. "He is also the only principal I know that truly has an open door policy," she wrote. "He listens, he cares, and he is always fair, even when the answer is not what was sought, he always takes time to explain his reasoning and ask for feedback."

Fiorentino said she plans to make a recommendation in time for the Nov. 6 School Board meeting. Van Gorden did not return calls or emails seeking comment.

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