Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lacoochee Elementary principal reassigned to east Pasco job

LACOOCHEE — Karen Marler is out for good as principal of Lacoochee Elementary School.

Seven Oaks Elementary School assistant principal Shirley Ray, who grew up in nearby Trilby, will take over the school today. She will meet with parents and the community at 4:30 p.m.

Pasco County schools superintendent Heather Fiorentino removed Marler, 59, from the school two weeks ago amid staff complaints of a hostile work environment. Fiorentino then sent a team of district administrators to Lacoochee.

"In our investigation, we found it to be true," Fiorentino said Tuesday in announcing her decision to reassign Marler to a job working with migrant families in east Pasco. "I have to make sure the leadership at that school can control the atmosphere and work environment for staff and the learning environment for students."

So far, no one responsible for causing the negative conditions has been penalized, district spokeswoman Summer Romagnoli said. Further action could depend on how successfully Ray can calm the situation inside the school.

The district did not release details about the specific complaints and findings. Those will become public record in 10 days.

Fiorentino did say that when she asked Marler about the situation, Marler responded that she was "at her wit's end" dealing with some issues at the school. That helped seal Fiorentino's decision.

Marler, who has a one-year administrative contract with the district, will be a principal on assignment but with no supervisory role. She will fill a vacant Title I program specialist position and will have that job title and pay if she retains the job next year.

She did not return calls seeking comment. She is taking four days off before reporting to the new job, which is based at Pasco High School in Dade City.

As the district conducted its climate study, several parents and community members rallied for Marler's quick return. They praised her as caring for children and active in the area's revitalization efforts.

Sandra Gallego, president of the school's Parent Teacher Community Organization, was among the group that gathered petition signatures and waved signs in support of their principal of nearly six years.

She said her daughter started crying after hearing the news, and asked if Marler would be back to say goodbye. For herself, Gallego figured the only real choice was to move on.

"Hopefully, the new principal and vice principal will be just as good," she said. "If (Ray) is a nice lady and she helps us, that's all that matters."

Fiorentino had high praise for Ray, a district teacher since 1997 and an assistant principal since 2007.

"She knows the community," Fiorentino said. "She has a very strong curriculum background and a very caring heart."

The superintendent also had many good words for Marler and her efforts for the school that serves some of Pasco's poorest children and families.

"Ms. Marler has great skills working with the community. … I know she did wonderful things for that school," she said, mentioning a variety of things including the creation of Parent University and the removal of barbed wire from the campus fences. "She has started great things out there. But I also have staff that felt they were in a hostile work environment."

That was a situation that couldn't be ignored, she said, particularly since it was brought out by several people and it had happened "more than once."

The district conducted a climate survey at Lacoochee a few years ago and found some areas where Marler was required to improve.

The School Board approved the job transfers on Tuesday without comment.

Afterward, only board member Kathryn Starkey would say anything about the change.

"I'm glad Ms. Marler will continue to be active in the migrant community," Starkey said.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

School news

In other business

The Pasco County School Board met Tuesday and took the following action:

• Approved a new administration job called "position control/compensation specialist," which will oversee all employee assignments. Board members raised concerns about the addition of another district-level job, but agreed the position was needed to help cope with class size and other mandates.

• Authorized the superintendent's staff to investigate ways to acquire lands up for auction that are adjacent to school sites.

• Raised concerns about the Imagine charter school's persistent failures to submit timely reports and documents to the district, but signed off on the school's request for capital outlay funding from the state.

• Heard board member Kathryn Starkey suggest consideration of mandatory student uniforms for elementary and middle schools.

Lacoochee Elementary principal reassigned to east Pasco job 10/05/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 8:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Two boys in critical condition after Largo crash

    Accidents

    LARGO — A 7-year-old boy was thrown from a car in a head-on crash on Starkey Road, and both he and a 6-year-old boy were in critical condition Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  2. Trump's new order bars almost all travel from seven countries

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday issued a new order banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country.

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters Sunday upon his return to the White House in Washington.
  3. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.
  4. In Mexico City, hopes of finding quake survivors dwindle

    World

    MEXICO CITY — Five days after the deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the hulking wreckage of what used to be a seven-story office building is one of the last hopes: one of just two sites left where searchers believe they may still find someone trapped alive in Mexico City.

    Rescue workers search for survivors inside a felled office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City on Saturday.
  5. GOP health bill in major peril as resistance hardens among key senators

    National

    WASHINGTON — The floundering Republican attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act met hardening resistance from key GOP senators Sunday that left it on the verge of collapse even as advocates vowed to keep pushing for a vote this week.

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate, said Sunday that it was “very difficult” to envision voting for this health-care bill.