LAND O'LAKES — An assistant principal has been removed from her job at Sunlake High School after improperly changing a student's grades.
Erin Galletta isn't out of work, though. She has landed a job as the graduation enhancement teacher at Fivay High School for the new academic year.
Fivay leaders were aware of the situation that led to her dismissal in June from Sunlake, Fivay assistant principal Erik Hermansen said. But Galletta, who worked for Fivay principal Angie Stone in the past, "does have excellent teaching skills," he added.
"She has a vast knowledge of working with students at risk," Hermansen said. "Looking at the applicants that we had, she was the best possible fit."
Just seven weeks ago, Galletta faced unemployment. A letter of reprimand in her file states that superintendent Heather Fiorentino chose not to reappoint her as an assistant principal for failing to follow the district's rules by altering a student's grades.
Galletta, 37, did not return a call Tuesday for comment. But she explained to district investigators that she believed she was following the student's special education instructional plan. The district deemed her explanation insufficient to justify her actions.
"Your decisions in this matter have placed the district in a legally precarious situation … and have caused a disruption for the district," Fiorentino wrote in a letter to Galletta, who has worked for the district since 2003. "This type of behavior restricts your effectiveness on the job and impairs the confidence that others have in your decision-making abilities."
The fact that Galletta could get another job within the district after such a situation has raised questions.
"It is hard to accept that there are people who have been laid off and lost their jobs and that this person should be hired over someone else," said Lynne Webb, president of United School Employees of Pasco.
But Webb emphasized that she does not know all the details, and she said Galletta "may actually be an excellent teacher, and this grade changing may actually be a misunderstanding."
School Board member Steve Luikart, a retired high school assistant principal, also wondered why a person removed from an administrator post should be rehired as a teacher.
He said Fiorentino had not explained the scenario to the board, though, and that he lacked adequate information to assess it.
"We've done some strange things in this county," Luikart said. "We continue to do strange things. But as long as it's the superintendent's power to do, we don't know."
District spokeswoman Summer Romagnoli said Fiorentino gives principals discretion to hire qualified teachers and that past performance as an administrator should not stand in the way.
Galletta "made an error in judgment," Romagnoli said. "We believe she still has strengths that we can leverage for kids."
Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.