Wayne Alexander should resign immediately as superintendent of Hernando County's School District. His contradictory statements about fulfilling the terms of his contract have cost him the last of the credibility he had maintained within the community.
This week, Hernando School Board members learned Alexander, superintendent since 2007, is one of three finalists for the same position in Brockton, Mass. Under the terms of his contract, Alexander is required to provide written notification to board members if he begins a job search. That didn't happen and yet again board members are embarrassed by Alexander withholding imperative information.
"I personally am tired of looking like an ass,'' School Board member Pat Fagan told Times staff writer Tom Marshall.
The board, district employees, parents and schoolchildren have been on this merry-go-round before. In February, after failing to land a position in Framingham, Mass., Alexander announced his resignation effective in July, saying he needed to be with his wife and stepchildren in New England. Those family considerations had prompted the search, he said.
A week later, Alexander's flip-flopped, saying he wanted to honor his three-year contract through June 2010 and his commitment to Hernando County. He repeated the pledge during a March 11 interview with Times reporters and editors. Five weeks later, he was named a finalist for the job in Brockton.
Clearly, there is no commitment to the Hernando School District and we wonder if Alexander can define the word "honor.''
In an interview late Friday, Alexander reiterated his past promises. He said he does not plan to resign, nor does he believe he will be fired. The Brockton Enterprise quoted Alexander in a story published Friday that Brockton isn't the exclusive site of his job search. He is applying for other superintendent jobs in New England. The newspaper also quoted Alexander as saying he had moved beyond seeking a job only for family concerns, and was seeking the Brockton position because he actually wants it. He is scheduled to interview for the job there in mid May.
The Hernando School District does not need this distraction. It is facing the potential for a multimillion-dollar shortfall because of lower tax collections from the recession. The district is trimming staff and weighing other unpopular cost-savings. The employees' union has said it has lost faith in Alexander because of what it termed indiscriminate layoffs. And board members wonder now if they were too hasty in approving the superintendent's suggested budget cuts before the state Legislature finishes its session in two weeks.
There is no doubt that Alexander's bull-in-a-china-shop management style has rubbed some the wrong way. But the discord now goes beyond personalities. The Hernando School District needs a leader committed to the people here, not someone positioning himself for an immediate career change despite previous public proclamations to the contrary.
His contract in Hernando does not expire until June 2010, but it is likely to be scrutinized Tuesday. Board members Fagan and James C. Yant said they would support terminating Alexander's tenure.
Alexander shouldn't wait for that to happen. His failure to notify board members of his pursuit of jobs in New England is a violation of his contract. He is not entitled to severance. Fighting over exit pay would be one last poke in the eye to the Hernando district which is watching others lose their jobs because of a constrained district budget.
Alexander should resign so board members can name an interim and begin an immediate search for a permanent replacement whose integrity they won't have to question continually.