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Hinesley given passing marks

Despite recent criticism, Pinellas School Board members ranked their superintendent average or above average in an evaluation released Wednesday.

The board members rated Howard Hinesley on a scale of very poor to very well on 69 criteria in seven categories _ including leadership, human resource development and planning, and customer focus and satisfaction. The ratings of the seven individual board members were then averaged to come up with the final rankings on the evaluation.

Board members also commented on specific items and gave general comments about Hinesley's performance.

For the most part, the comments were complimentary. In one case, Corinne Freeman took the opportunity to chastise fellow board members for not following Hinesley's advice.

"Concerning the zoning of Palm Harbor University High, which has caused continual friction and despite Dr. Hinesley's many cautions and warnings, the board went their own way. Unfortunately, his predictions came true," Freeman wrote.

But Linda Lerner had a different view of that situation: "The superintendent recommended placing two magnets at Palm Harbor University High School. The implications of this decision seemed not to be carefully considered by Dr. Hinesley."

Lerner also criticized Hinesley for his original proposal on a "zero-tolerance" code of student conduct.

"Had it been passed by the board," she wrote, "this original recommendation would have expelled many more students, perhaps hundreds, without any educational alternatives. This was an educationally unsound recommendation which did not reflect the needs of the students or the community."

The board eventually passed a no-tolerance code with educational alternatives as part of the package.

The sternest comments came from Susan Latvala, who said in May it was "past time" for Hinesley to go.

"There is a lack of trust and confidence in the superintendent," Latvala wrote in the evaluation. "He has not shown the leadership required to guide this district through these very difficult times."

In the comments under leadership, Latvala wrote: "The superintendent has not shown the leadership skills required by this demanding job."