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A Times Editorial

Failure on all sides

The Pinellas School District's inability to hold its workers accountable now has a face. A school janitor has been written up 28 times over 20 years for poor performance and other issues. Yet the School Board did not fire him this week because the discipline over the years was not increasingly tougher. Employees have to be held accountable for their performance, and the district has to demand better from supervisors.

Scott Long, a head custodian, initially refused a demotion and superintendent Julie Janssen wanted to fire him. But Long requested a hearing and later accepted the demotion. That is the deal the School Board approved 6-1 on Tuesday.

How can taxpayers trust that a district that can't fire a poor-performing custodian is up to the task of removing bad teachers from the classroom? And the case of the custodian illustrates how the district's failure to track performance districtwide allows problem employees to move from school to school with little penalty.

Hard-working high-performing school district employees have earned the right to a better system than the one where Long still has a job. So have taxpayers and students, who depend on school district employees to prepare them for an increasingly competitive world. Janssen's instinct to fire the custodian was the right one, and now she needs to tackle the broader problem head-on.

Failure on all sides 12/09/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 9, 2009 7:13pm]
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