Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Miss Manners, this School Board leader needs you

Where's Miss Manners when you really need her? And if you should come upon the doyenne of etiquette can you please have her send a strongly worded missive of scorn in the general direction of Hillsborough County School Board chairwoman April Griffin?

It is no secret you're unlikely to find the prickly Griffin sipping girls' night out cosmopolitans with school superintendant MaryEllen Elia. To put it kindly, the two women do not laugh at the same jokes.

So maybe that explains why Griffin failed to copy Elia on a letter she never should have written when the chairwoman decided to butt into a dispute over a Plant High School student tennis player's residency eligibility to compete.

The case involved a now-16-year-old who lived in the Blake High School zone but who wanted to play for the Plant girls tennis squad. As if by magic, the family established a residence in a neighborhood to qualify her for the Plant team, even though school district investigators determined that the family actually slept in the abode about as often as Judge Crater.

Hillsborough County in particular has become sensitized to these sorts of Three Card Monte residency games, especially since football powerhouse Armwood High School was forced to vacate its 2011 Class A championship after revelations that a number of players had fudged their residency status to get on the team.

What school wants that sort of embarrassment? What team members would want their season's victories tarnished or voided because someone tried to play fast and loose with the rules?

After the Florida High School Athletic Association determined the student would be ineligible to play but could remain a student at Plant, Griffin fired off a letter on School Board stationery to an FHSAA official complaining about how the matter was handled.

Because Griffin was endeavoring to influence an FHSAA policy issue, it might have been polite to copy Elia, her fellow board members and other school district officials on her letter. But she didn't.

And Griffin wanted to have it both ways, writing that she was acting in her capacity as School Board chairwoman, only to later note she was contacting the official on a personal, unofficial basis. Who wrote this thing? Sybil?

In any event it would be understandable if FHSAA officials regarded the letter as an effort by Griffin to attempt to use her exalted position as chairwoman of the School Board to influence an administrative decision. That's not only wrong, but dense, too.

Griffin has suggested that the process for granting or denying eligibility status to students is not consistent, which might be another way of saying the process allows for some discretion depending on the circumstances of each student's situation.

In the tennis player's case, investigators were unable to determine that the family was actually living in the Plant zone. Interviews with the parents were conducted. Several hearings were held. It would appear the process worked as it should. Griffin just didn't like the result.

School Board members rarely inject themselves into routine administrative matters, especially issues related to athletic eligibility.

As it turned out, Griffin's bureaucratic gate-crashing didn't change the FHSAA ruling. It only served to bolster her reputation as a meddlesome busybody, and not a very decorous one at that.

Comments
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18