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Is former senator John Legg running for Pasco superintendent?

Short answer: Maybe.
Former state senator John Legg has not ruled out a run for Pasco County schools superintendent. The district is the nation's largest to elect its chief executive.
Former state senator John Legg has not ruled out a run for Pasco County schools superintendent. The district is the nation's largest to elect its chief executive.

Former state senator John Legg’s tweets often seem to spark speculation about the political plans of the charter school operator.

It happened in May, when he posted a cryptic message about hope coming to Pasco County schools.

It happened again on Friday, after he criticized a school district social media photo of several administrators on the Capitol steps in Tallahassee.

The big question each time: Is the former chairman of both the House and Senate education committees, who runs a successful charter school and recently earned a doctorate in education, posturing to run for Pasco County schools superintendent? Pasco is the nation’s largest school district to elect its chief executive.

In the spring, the answer was “No.” Legg was hinting at plans for his charter school’s expansion into new sites and grade levels.

This time, he wasn’t so certain.

“We’re researching what we can do,” Legg said, neither ruling out a run nor committing to one.

His critical tweet wasn’t necessarily aimed at sending a political message, he said. He simply suggested that a photo of district officials smiling in Tallahassee had bad optics in the same week that the district announced it would be closing down Hudson Elementary School for persistently poor outcomes.

Hudson principal Adrian Anthony appears on the far right of the second row.

“I just thought it was poor judgment to take principals out — especially the Hudson Elementary principal — on the week you close the school, to take them to Tallahassee,” Legg said, contending it would be better to have them in the schools making improvements. “It rubbed me the wrong way.”

On a deeper level, though, he said the trip suggested that the district leadership doesn’t know how to deal with the needs of an increasingly impoverished west Pasco community — something Legg has raised frequently before. He praised the district for taking steps to address the problems, but said it shouldn’t get a pat on the back for finally tackling a situation that grew under the leadership’s watch.

For its part, district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe tweeted back to Legg’s comment with a defense that the administrators traveled to Tallahassee to get a first-hand look at the system that affects so much of what they do. They met with several key leaders, including the governor, she added.

To which Legg responded with more criticism: “Not the best use of time, resources, & effort. Low income students must be the priority. Pasco was ranked 34th in 2012, dropped to 41st in ‘19.”

If Legg were to enter the race, he would join a crowded field that includes two-term incumbent Kurt Browning, Hudson High principal David LaRoche and Bayonet Point Middle teacher Cynthia Thompson. All are Republicans.

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