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Dan DeWitt, Hernando Times Columnist

Dan DeWitt

Dan DeWitt has worked as a reporter or columnist for the Times in Hernando County since 1989. He and his wife, Laura, live with their two sons south of Brooksville.

DeWitt previously worked for the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press. A Cincinnati native, he attended Kenyon College in Ohio and received a master's degree in journalism from the University of Michigan.

Phone: (352) 754-6116

Email: ddewitt@tampabay.com

Twitter: @DDewittTimes

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  1. Evaluations show solid support for Hernando school superintendent

    K12

    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando School Board member Susan Duval's sharply critical evaluation of superintendent Lori Romano last year left Romano with a narrow majority of supporters on the board.

    That support was solidified this month when four of five board members — including Duval — submitted favorable reviews of Romano's performance.

    The board had been scheduled to talk about the evaluations at its last workshop, but the discussion was postponed because board member Beth Narverud had not had a chance to meet with Romano to discuss her unflattering evaluation....

  2. Superintendent removes two principals from schools

    News

    BROOKSVILLE — Two Hernando County school principals, Mark Griffith of Moton Elementary School and Latressa Jones of the Endeavor and Discovery academies, will not return to their positions next year.

    Two district-level staffers — Jason Chase, supervisor of technology and information services, and J. Lisle Bozeman, manager of planning and grant development — also will be leaving their jobs....

    Mark Griffith
  3. DeWitt: Brooksville's cry of foul rings hollow when it comes to racist past

    Columns

    Brooksville, with a history as racist as any city in the United States, is offended that somebody dared to call it racist.

    Actually, it's more than offended. It's "befuddled, shocked, amazed and very disappointed" at these "slanderous aspersions."

    The city's honor has been impugned, the resolution passed by the City Council last month states, and can only be restored if Hernando County fires the lawyers "accountable for this abominable emetic action."...

  4. Judge rules former Hernando schools administrator should not get his job back

    K12

    BROOKSVILLE — A Brooksville judge has denied Ken Pritz's claim that the state's whistleblower law entitles him to temporarily return to his former job as assistant superintendent of the Hernando County School District.

    The case is secondary to the main claim — that the district owes Pritz for lost salary and retirement benefits — which is scheduled for a jury trial early next year....

    Ken Pritz says the school chief cut him loose in retaliation for revealing she sent an email in his name.
  5. Supermajority preservation an unexpected plus for Hernando

    Growth

    Hooray for Jim Adkins, crusader for the environment!

    Three cheers for Jeff Holcomb, enemy of ill-conceived mining plans!

    I know. Reading those sentences might be disorienting, even a shock to the system.

    Writing them definitely was. But I had to do it.

    Last week, Hernando County Commissioners Holcomb, Adkins and, more predictably, Diane Rowden voted to stick to one of the best rules the County Commission has ever established: the requirement of a supermajority vote to change the Comprehensive Plan, the county's blueprint for future development....

  6. Vince La Borante elected to lead teachers union in Hernando

    K12

    BROOKSVILLE — Vince La Borante, a longtime teacher and administrator with the Hernando County School District, has won a three-year term as president of the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association.

    La Borante, 60, who has been the union's second vice president, will replace president Jo Ann Hartge at the end of the school year.

    Hartge, who also served a previous stint as president in the 1990s, is retiring after 29 years with the school district....

  7. DeWitt: Even with political enemies, Murray Grubbs always was engaging

    Local

    Even with the recent passing of Murray Grubbs — friendly, funny and folksy as he was — we shouldn't get too sentimental about the collegial good old days of local politics.

    After all, Grubbs, who died last week at age 87, played a part in bringing modern partisanship to Hernando County.

    When Grubbs, a three-term Democratic county commissioner, switched parties in 1982, he became the local symbol of the South's historic shift from blue to red....

  8. Hernando district investigating teacher, aide in physical abuse case

    K12

    BROOKSVILLE — Adding to the troubles at Moton Elementary School, the Hernando County School District is investigating whether two employees physically abused a 6-year-old student with Down syndrome.

    The employees — whom the girl's mother identified as a teacher and a teacher's aide — have been removed from contact with students, said district spokeswoman Karen Jordan.

    The girl's mother, Vanessa Mauk-Doane, said an investigator from the Florida Department of Children and Families told the family that other teachers had reported seeing the teacher and teacher's aide drag Mauk-Doane's daughter across the floor by her hair....

  9. State documents reveal subject of Hernando school investigation: testing

    K12

    BROOKSVILLE — Teachers and parents concerned about the high level of secrecy surrounding an investigation at Moton Elementary School can now at least know the subject of the inquiry:

    Potential improprieties with standardized testing.

    The district released the information not because of public complaints — most notably from a group of Moton teachers who appeared at Tuesday's Hernando County School Board meeting — but because the state requires districts to report suspected violations of testing rules to the Florida Department of Education within 10 days of learning of them....

  10. DeWitt: Chinsegut shows signs of fulfilling its promise

    Tourism

    Some signs that the Chinsegut manor house is finally on track to realize its potential as Hernando County's defining historical landmark:

    • Clear views of distant woods and pastures, thanks to an arborist who volunteered his time to clear low-hanging limbs and underbrush.

    "You can see Cemex now," joked Sherry Pedonesi, president of Friends of Chinsegut Hill, which has a contract with the county to manage the property....

    The Chinsegut Hill manor house northeast of Brooksville is on track to realize its potential as Hernando County’s defining historical landmark.
  11. Former transportation director for Hernando schools drops appeal in harassment case

    K12

    BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School District's former transportation director — set to be fired last year after an investigation showed he had sexually harassed a female employee — has dropped his appeal and submitted his resignation.

    Doug Compton, 47, filed notice with the state Division of Administrative Hearings on Friday announcing his decision to "abandon and/or dismiss" the appeal, according to the division's website....

  12. Principal, assistant principal removed from Brooksville school

    K12

    BROOKSVILLE — The principal and assistant principal at Moton Elementary School have been temporarily removed from their positions while the Hernando County School District conducts an investigation.

    District spokeswoman Karen Jordan declined to reveal the subject of the investigation or whether the administrators — principal Mark Griffith and assistant principal Anna Jensen — had been suspended or transferred to another location in the district....

  13. Hernando schools struggle with shortage of money for substitute teachers

    K12

    BROOKSVILLE — Bob Webb said that until this year he worked almost every school day as a substitute teacher in the Hernando County School District.

    But his hours have dwindled steadily, he said, and now he's lucky to get two half days of work per week.

    "Subs in Hernando County are pretty much unemployed," said Webb, 59, of Brooksville, a five-year veteran substitute. "We're basically just getting the scraps that they're giving us."...

  14. DeWitt: Robert Schenck's crash points to weakness in traffic laws

    Local Government

    The Florida Highway Patrol says Robert Schenck got treated just like anybody else.

    Maybe. But there was no news release on a 2014 collision that ultimately killed a bicyclist from an agency that fills up journalists' email with reports of just about anything more serious than a fender bender.

    Schenck, likewise, who at the time was finishing up an eight-year stint as a Republican state representative, said he did nothing to prevent this incident from going public, nothing to keep this bike wreck from becoming a political train wreck....

    Robert Schenck’s name was misspelled in court records.
  15. DeWitt: When it comes to school funding, inequity is just one of the issues

    K12

    Yippee, we're 49th!

    That's where Hernando County ranks, out of 67 counties, in the amount of money its schools will receive next year per student from the state's main education funding program.

    And though this is a considerable improvement from as recently as a few years ago, when Hernando ranked 62nd, it shows that equality of school funding is a persistent problem in Florida, said Gregg Laskoski of Spring Hill, who has been the system's most persistent local critic....