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Pinellas teachers' union elects new president

Early this morning the Pinellas teachers union announced a new leader for the first time in seven years: Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School teacher Mike Gandolfo.

More than 1,500 members of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association voted in Wednesday's election, giving Gandolfo a whopping 72 percent mandate in a four-way race.

Susan Spaulding, a teacher at Ridgecrest Elementary, was elected vice president of the union.

"I have every confidence that they will lead (us) forward with strong advocacy for all teachers and students in Pinellas County," said current president Kim Black.

Black, who has held the reins for seven years, and who endorsed Gandolfo, will continue serving through mid June.

Gandolfo defeated current union vice president Richard Wisemiller, who received 13 percent of the vote.

Wisemiller was considered by many to be the race's frontrunner before a Tuesday article in the Tampa Bay Times outlined more than a decade of school system investigations into his conduct with female students.

Last spring, Wisemiller was suspended for three days without pay after witnesses say he reached inside a girl's pants during a science demonstration.

This year, he was suspended for three more days and ordered to undergo ethics training over comments he made about a student's breasts, among other remarks.

Pinellas referred Wisemiller to the Florida Department of Education, which could choose to revoke his teaching certificate.

Gandolfo, 52, has worked in Pinellas schools since 2004 and served in a variety of positions within the teachers union.

Richard L. Sanders School teacher Don Manly received 6 percent of the vote, while Gibbs High School educator Rick Bose received 8 percent.

Pinellas teachers' union elects new president 03/20/14 [Last modified: Thursday, March 20, 2014 1:01am]
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