1. Gradebook

Former state teachers union president Joanne McCall takes job in Pinellas

She lost reelection to the state post in October. Now she’s executive director of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association.
OCTAVIO JONES | Times Joanne McCall is the new executive director of Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, the county's teachers union. She formerly served as president of the state teachers union, Florida Education Association, based in Tallahassee, but lost reelection in October. Here she is shown speaking at an April 2018 Hernando County School Board meeting where she spoke against now-fired Superintendent Lori Romano after she fired 47 teachers at once.
Published Jun. 7
Updated Jun. 7

Joanne McCall, former president of Florida’s teachers union, will arrive in Pinellas County Tuesday as the new executive director of the local union.

The position at Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association has been vacant since 2016, when former director Bruce Proud retired. Its duties since have been handled by Mike Gandolfo, the union’s president, who said the burden of dual responsibilities finally became too much.

In an announcement Friday, Gandolfo wrote that union members will benefit from McCall’s “vast experience, knowledge, contacts, drive and focus."

“I believe she has the vision and wisdom to advise the presidents that follow me,” he added.

McCall served as president of the state union, Florida Education Association, for one term, losing reelection to the group’s vice president Fed Ingram in October. She previously was vice president after working as a speech and language pathologist in Sumter County for 20 years.

She returned to the classroom setting in January, at Godby High School in Leon County. Then Gandolfo called her about the job in Pinellas, she said in a phone interview Friday.

“The interviewed me and offered me the job before I was even much out of the parking lot,” McCall said, adding that the local union will be a nice “change of pace."

McCall said she has “unique ideas” for Pinellas. But she would not share them because they haven’t yet been communicated to union board members.

While in the state role, McCall took some criticism from both Ingram and others. Broward Teachers Union president Anna Fusco told the Miami Herald in October that herself and other local union presidents “basically demanded (Ingram) step up" in McCall’s place.

“She never executes a plan in a timely manner. She doesn’t include her local leaders to execute the plan,” Fusco told the Herald. “We’re always called off at the last minute and left on the back burner.”

RELATED: It’s been a tough few years for Florida teachers. Will a new union leader shake things up?

McCall said Friday that she stands behind her leadership at the state union. The criticism she received only happened because it was election time, she said.

“I think I have a very strong record ... of listening to local leaders, and I have a very good record of moving the agenda of (the state union),” she said. “I don’t regret anything.”

Gandolfo’s announcement celebrated recent gains by the teachers union, which fought for better working conditions and won raises this school year. Membership is up and professional development offerings have improved, he said, adding that McCall’s leadership will only strengthen the group.

“Her addition to our team should give us all cause to hope for a brighter future for educators in Pinellas,” Gandolfo wrote. The union “has made some great strides in recent years and with the addition of Joanne McCall, we have become even more formidable."

Contact Megan Reeves at Follow @mareevs.


  1. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  2. Jeff Eakins and MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough's last two superintendents, were hired from inside the school system. So have all others since 1967. Times staff
    Go to the school district website before 8 a.m. Monday to state your case.
  3. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, urges the Florida Board of Education to hold schools accountable for teaching the Holocaust and African-American history, as required by lawmakers in 1994. The board was considering a rule on the matter at its Sept. 20, 2019, meeting in Jacksonville. The Florida Channel
    School districts will have to report how they are providing the instruction required in Florida law.
  4. The Pasco County school district would rezone the Seven Oaks subdivision from the Wiregrass Ranch High feeder pattern to the Cypress Creek High feeder pattern, beginning in the 2020-21 school year. Pasco County school district
    The Seven Oaks subdivision is the primary target for rezoning.
  5. Fortify Florida is a new app that allows for anonymous reporting of suspected school threats. Florida Department of Education
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  7. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.
  8. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    School security and early learning get top billing in the first committee meetings of the looming 2020 session.
  9. This image from a Pinellas County Schools video shows an armed police officer running to respond to a fictional active shooter.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    The proposal is short on details, with officials saying they want to work through specifics during negotiations.