1. Pasco

Question of conflicts arises as Pasco school boundary rezoning heats up

One Pasco County parent with concerns over the pending revision of Mitchell High School attendance zones has raised pointed questions about the qualifications of another selected for the rezoning committee.

Dan Ewing, who has asked school district officials for assurances his home will remain in the Mitchell zone, has raised a yellow flag over the appointment of David Goldstein to the district's advisory panel. Goldstein, who lives in Longleaf and has children in elementary and middle school, is chief assistant county attorney.

"The Florida Bar lists Mr. Goldstein as a 'Land Use' attorney working for Pasco County," Ewing wrote in an email to media, district planners and Tax Collector Mike Fasano. "Could you verify if the information about Mr. Goldstein being chosen as a parent representative is accurate and if so, explain how this isn't a conflict of interest for Mr. Goldstein to serve as an advocate for the parents while also being employed by the county with job duties specific to land use?"

Fasano quickly responded, lending some of his political weight to the suggestion.

"Although David is an honest and good person, I learned a long time ago perception is everything," Fasano wrote to Ewing, with copies to the others. "Your point is well made."

Goldstein, who was appointed to the committee by Seven Springs Middle School principal Chris Dunning, said his job would not hinder his ability to serve on the committee.

"Although I do represent the Board of County Commissioners on land use issues, the Board of County Commissioners does not have any decision making authority with regard to school attendance boundaries, so I am not sure I understand what the 'conflict of interest,' could possibly be," he told the Gradebook via email.

He noted he does not work for the school district, although he has plenty of knowledge about the subject matter the district faces.

"I would think that my expertise in planning and financial issues would actually be an asset to the Committee, and not a detriment," Goldstein said, adding that he did not understand Fasano's comment or involvement. "If the School Board representatives have concerns about my participation or qualifications, I am sure they will let me know."

Deputy superintendent Ray Gadd offered a one-word reaction to that point: "None."

The committee is scheduled to first meet Oct. 5. The full membership has not been announced.