Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Politics

Hillsborough school board candidate blasts district over special-education tragedies

TAMPA — Terry Kemple waited until the night before the election to unload on the Hillsborough County school district for its treatment of special-needs students.

But his statement, when he released it, did not hold back.

"As a father, my heart and my prayers go out to the families of Bella Herrera and Jennifer Caballero, the special needs students who have died in tragic accidents that have taken place in the Hillsborough County School District this year," wrote Kemple, who is running for the countywide District 7 School Board seat against longtime incumbent Carol Kurdell.

"Parents and children in Hillsborough County deserve better! A culture of active accountability will help prevent tragedies like this in the future."

Bella died in January, after suffering respiratory distress on a school bus leaving Sessums Elementary School. A Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office report shows that neither the driver nor the aide called 911. Instead, they tried to notify their supervisors and a dispatch operator of the crisis, in accordance with what the district described as its protocol. District officials, when asked last week for a written report about the incident, said they were not aware of any.

Bella's family is suing the district in federal court.

Jennifer drowned last month in a retention pond behind Rodgers Middle School after walking away from a physical education class. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating, and after that the district will conduct its own inquiry.

Kurdell, hearing about Kemple's statement, said, "How do I respond? I am always disappointed when an opportunist uses the deaths of children to advance someone's candidacy. I don't care who you are. It is inappropriate."

In recent days several board members have said they want to take a closer look at the exceptional student education department, which serves 29,000 students and has undergone other troubling incidents this year as well.

Count her among those members, Kurdell said.

"Always, when you have a tragedy, you have to look at everything that happened," she said, "Look at the facts, and see if changes have to occur. We might have to change things to keep children safe, that's the bottom line."

Board workshops are scheduled Thursday morning and afternoon to discuss lacrosse, Head Start and other issues. While special education is not listed on any agenda, members are likely to ask questions about staff training, the practice of not calling 911, and other related topics.

Comments

Sean Hannity, a Trump defender, under scrutiny for real estate deals

Atlanta Journal-Constitution (TNS)ATLANTA — On his Fox News program last summer, Sean Hannity effused praise for his guest, U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson. "I know you have done a good job," Hannity said. "You are a good man."Carson’s presence gav...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

With the third largest Cuban American population, Cuba’s culture is celebrated throughout the Tampa Bay area and in a diversity of ways.Flags hang in homes, fashion is worn, music performed, food served.But be wary of honoring that heritage by puttin...
Published: 04/23/18
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Published: 04/21/18

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Published: 04/21/18
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Published: 04/21/18
Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Scott’s first policy idea as a U.S. Senate candidate won’t happen and most of his fellow Republicans don’t support it.But it’s a surefire applause line at political rallies.Scott wants term limits for members of Congress: 12 ye...
Published: 04/23/18
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18