Advertisement
  1. Education

Parent locked out of Gov. Scott's school meetings because of security check

Published Sep. 20, 2012

TALLAHASSEE — La'Tasha Reed Dullivan wanted to attend the governor's education listening tour when he arrived at her son's charter school last week. But, even though she has passed numerous state security screenings and is authorized to work with disabled children and their families, she was rejected.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement had determined that Dullivan was a security risk.

"Because of confidentiality, we can't disclose why an individual person was denied except to say each person is evaluated on a case-by-case basis,'' said Gretl Plessinger, FDLE spokeswoman. She would not clarify what is deemed a security risk.

No one was more surprised to hear this than Dullivan.

Since 1993, she has passed routine Level 2 background checks as a child care worker and, since 2005, as a Medicaid provider authorized to screen young children and recommend services for the Department of Children and Families' Early Steps program. Those background checks include fingerprinting, national and state criminal history checks, driver records and a search for any arrest record.

To be selected as one of the parents to talk to the governor, she was asked to fill out a form with her driver's license, Social Security number and date of birth.

But when the principal at the Governor's Academy Charter School in Tallahassee informed her that she had been rejected and couldn't attend, Dullivan got worried.

"I thought someone stole my identity or something,'' said Dullivan, who left DCF in January and now trains Medicaid providers for the University of South Florida in Tallahassee.

On Saturday, she ran a check on herself through FDLE's criminal history database. The report read: "FDLE found no Florida criminal history based on the information provided.''

"I assumed there were other things," Dullivan concluded. Maybe it was because she is a registered Democrat. Maybe it was because the room was full. "I am not an unsafe person," she told the Times/Herald.

Melissa Sellers, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Scott, blamed the FDLE for rejecting Dullivan and denied that the governor's office was screening parents for their political affiliation. The office has invited Dullivan to meet with the governor one-on-one on Oct. 2, she said.

"We are working with the FDLE to balance their security concerns with the governor's desire to hear from as many Floridians as possible,'' she said. "We have worked with the principal to reach out to this parent."

Dullivan said she is willing to meet but will request an explanation of why she was considered a security risk.

The FDLE won't release what criteria it uses to determine which parents are deemed a security risk for meeting the governor. Plessinger said it has been a long-standing practice for the FDLE to screen "anyone who meets with the governor, whether it's at his office, at the mansion or in a public meeting."

But the agency won't elaborate on how it decides which meetings to screen and which to allow to occur spontaneously.

Dullivan said she has nothing against the governor.

"I just wanted to hear what's happening to my child's education so that I am prepared,'' she said. "Not that I had a gripe — I just wanted to listen — but I didn't get that far."

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. A school bus travels the early morning streets of Pasco County on the way to the first day of classes in 2017.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  2. Transgender student Drew Adams speaks with reporters outside of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Adam's fight over school restrooms came before a federal appeals court Thursday, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling. Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High in Ponte Vedra, Fla., won a lower court ruling last year ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys' restroom. The district has since appealed. RON HARRIS  |  AP
    The closely watched case of Drew Adams, once a high school student in Florida, is heard by a three-judge panel in Atlanta.
  3. Stephen Ailing, 54, faces a battery charge. Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    Stephen Ailing, who faces a battery charge, teaches music at Sunray Elementary in Holiday.
  4. Representatives from the United School Employees of Pasco, on the left, present their latest pay request to the district's bargaining team during talks on Oct. 24, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Teachers have yet to reach a deal on their contract.
  5. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. It has met just once more since then. The Florida Channel
    Lawmakers have yet to set an aggressive agenda beyond talk of teacher pay as the 2020 legislative session nears.
  6. FILE - In a Monday, Dec. 11, 2017 file photo, transgender teen Drew Adams, left, leaves the U. S. Courthouse with his mother Erica Adams Kasper after the first day of his trial about bathroom rights at Nease High School, in Jacksonville, Fla. The transgender student's fight over school bathrooms comes before a federal appeals court Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling. Drew Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, won a lower court ruling in 2018 ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys' restroom. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP, File) WILL DICKEY  |  AP
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  7. A bird's-eye view of USF St. Petersburg, which this week announced a new member of the Campus Board. She is Melissa Seixas, a Duke Energy executive who earned her master's degree at USF.
    News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.
  8. An LGBTQ Pride march participant walks under a large rainbow flag in New York earlier this year. School Board policy regarding LGBTQ students has been a frequent topic of discussion in recent months in Pasco County. CRAIG RUTTLE  |  AP
    The discourse is more civil and respectful, two weeks after a session that many deemed hate-filled and vile.
  9. The Florida Legislature so far has has left Gov. Ron DeSantis to set most education policy priorities for 2020.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. Florida Senator Tom Lee, R- Thonotosassa. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times] SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES
    The Senate Education Committee will tackle some high-profile issues in its final meeting before session.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement