Termination letter details Hernando School Board’s reasons for firing superintendent

Hernando County Superintendent Lori Romano
Hernando County Superintendent Lori Romano
Published June 26, 2018|Updated June 26, 2018

In her last week as superintendent of Hernando County schools, Lori Romano has received a formal termination letter detailing the School Board's reasons for firing her on June 12.

The letter, drafted by board attorney Dennis Alfonso and given to officials for review Monday, charges Romano with "ineffective leadership" and communication shortfalls.

It serves to make a case for the board to fire Romano for cause, meaning with reason, to avoid litigation and paying her severance. Board members will vote on its approval at a 6 p.m. meeting Tuesday.

Romano could not immediately be reached for comment by the Tampa Bay Times.

The letter specifically points to Romano's recent decision to fire 47 teachers at long-struggling Moton Elementary School, the public backlash that followed and her attempts to block a districtwide survey to evaluate her performance as superintendent.

In regards to Moton, the letter said Romano failed to fully advise board members of the "timing and scope" of her plan, which was "disruptive to students parents and School Board employees."

"You provided untimely, incomplete and/or inaccurate information," the letter said. "Your action plan for MES was inappropriately (if not incompetently) timed and executed."

The letter references the negative feedback Romano received on last year's districtwide survey to evaluate her performance, as well as her effort to block a second survey from happening.

While some respondents praised Romano's effort to get the district to an A rating, others criticized her for lacking transparency and called for her resignation. She scored an average rating of 2.86 out of 5.

When the School Board approved a second districtwide survey in April, the letter said, Romano refused to provide employee email addresses, which are public record, so that the survey could be facilitated.

"You did not have support … for your directive," the letter said. "It appears to be nothing more than an act of malfeasance intended to interfere with the proper execution of the Board action following your unflattering rating."

The letter also charges Romano with presenting "incomplete and/or inaccurate" financial information to the County Commission during its meeting on April 24.

Romano has 10 days to request a post-termination hearing to contest her firing, per her contract with the board. If cause for her dismissal is found, Romano could have to pay the board up to $25,000 in damages, which would go toward the cost of finding a new superintendent.

Contact Megan Reeves at Follow @mareevs.