Re: Superintendent's "town hall" meetings
Fixing ESE should
be the first shakeup
As the mother of a son with disabilities who has attended Hernando County schools since kindergarten and has now successfully moved on to college, I must address the latest "town hall meeting" with our new school superintendent, Dr. Wayne Alexander. It was scheduled to "give parents an opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions."
Dr. Alexander, who proudly states he has an ESE background, must have missed the compassion, empathy and listening part of his ESE background training, which, if you are a parent of a child with special needs, you know is a part that is vital.
My son and I struggled to a breaking point to obtain the supports he was entitled to by the law; we should not have had to fight for his rights. That struggle continues today with so many families in this county.
While I understand we cannot hold Alexander accountable for the past due to his new tenure, I can hold him accountable for his behavior, attitude, responses (or lack thereof) and/or professionalism. His display at the town hall meeting was arrogant and condescending. He interrupted others but did not want to be interrupted. After just a few questions along the lines of ESE, he stated there would be no more ESE questions. It is difficult to get to these meetings if you are a parent of a child with a disability, and then not to have your voice heard exacerbates the situation.
His so-called organizational shakeup may be needed and some may even see him as finally a "doer" in our school system. I am sorry to say it appears he has a lot to learn before he can be a leader of change in Hernando County for our ESE system.
Our ESE system is broken — not by the people who work in ESE, because there are some wonderful people there, but by the system itself. Correcting this system needs to be a priority in this county, yet there is no mention of that in his "shakeup'' plans.
We had a doctor in the house. What we needed was a reporter.
Evelyn Garza, Spring Hill
Group decries bills
I am writing on behalf of the Hernando Audubon Society to express our opposition to House Bill 147, Rep. Robert Schenck's wetlands permitting bill. This bill has a companion bill in the Florida Senate, SB 402, sponsored by Sen. Mike Fasano. Both legislators should know that the public is strongly opposed to these bills as they will negatively impact our natural resources.
We oppose HB 147 and SB 402 as they would cut the period of time for government review of applications to build in wetlands.
Thousands of acres of wetlands have been destroyed during the last two decades and we need to protect what remains.
Wetlands serve the vital function of capturing floodwaters, controlling pollution and providing wildlife habitat. If we don't protect them now, we will pay the price later. We need to protect our state's natural resources, water supply and water quality, and dwindling wildlife.
While Rep. Schenck may have been well-intentioned in filing this bill, economic development that comes at the expense of the water supply and natural resources all of us depend on is shortsighted and not in this region's best interest. If an applicant can't play by the rules, what other corners will they cut?
Let's keep our waters clean, and keep the nature in the Nature Coast. Say no to wetlands loss, and say no to HB 147 and SB 402.
conservation chairman, Hernando Audubon Society