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Residents Outraged Over School Super’s Rogue Actions, Some Calling for Her Immediate Removal

HERNANDO – The Hernando County School Board is making headlines again, after the District School Superintendent, Dr. Lori Romano, failed to notify the public on at least three major issues, which is required by law.

The incidents were brought to light in a Wednesday edition of the Tampa Bay Times, where columnist Dan DeWitt exposed an unannounced HCSB Retreat, held at Silverthorn Country Club.

Dewitt writes “The district held the retreats at Silverthorn Country Club, which charged more than $500 for the day’s meals and meeting room rental, and paid $600 for a private consultant to deliver communications training.” Dewitt also explains “Besides Romano and board members, the retreats include the five highest-ranking district staffers, who have an average annual salary of more than $90,000. Alfonso — who received $165 per hour for Tuesday’s retreat…”

It should also be noted that Romano’s salary is approximately $145,000 with additional monetary incentives. Romano recently vied for a position with the Osceola County School Board, where she could have made between $185,000 and $225,000 per year. Romano accepted a raise in Hernando County after losing her bid for Osceola County.

But the retreat is only one of two other unannounced decisions made by Dr. Romano. DeWitt’s article also explains that Romano moved to end a contract with a private dropout prevention program, Catapult Academy, and institute a new adult high school. Both decisions were made without board approval or public discussion.

But Romano is no stranger to controversy and has a reputation for dodging questions and being less than transparent with the community and media inquiries.

We spoke to citizen advocate Danielle Underwood regarding the issue who said “There has been no transparency with the school district to the public, the whole time she has been on the board.” Underwood says “It’s a shame that when parents attend school board meetings that they have to pry information from Romano.” Underwood explains, ‘During school board meetings a parent has 3 minutes to say what they want and then shut up and sit down – the board never answers questions or follows up with concerns.”

I asked underwood what she thinks should happen to Romano – she replied “The board should analyze the decisions and wrong doings that she has committed and decide what they need to do. If she has breached her contract then she should be removed.” But Underwood believes Romano should face criminal charges due to violating the State’s Sunshine Laws. “I personally think it should be brought to the state attorney’s office because their attorney has already admitted that she has violated the law.” In DeWitt’s article, School Board Attorney Dennis Alfonso said “…the failure to run a legal advertisement notifying the public of the gathering was an oversight caused partly by its timing, shortly after the week of spring break.” Underwood says “That’s like me saying to a deputy if I get pulled over for DUI that I got into a fight with my husband and that I should be excused.”

RNRF asked Romano and board members for comment but we have not received a reply. Underwood says during a conversation with board member Beth Narverude, she was told that Romano could not be voted out of her position unless she breached her contract. Underwood believes that if a vote were held today, board members Beth Narverude, Linda Prescott, and Susan Duval would all vote to have her removed.

Over the last three years RNRF‘s requests for interviews with Romano have all been denied. In most cases we never even receive direct quotes from Romano unless it is regarding something positive with the district. The District’s Public Information Officer, Karen Jordan is the only point of contact with the district and only provides basic public information upon request. Conversely, The Board of County Commissioners has always been transparent with RNRF, even in the face of controversy.

Pam Everett, another outspoken citizen advocate, put together a petition that calls for the removal of Superintendent Dr. Romano (Follow this link). Everett says “As Hernando County taxpayers we feel she has failed her community in the leadership of Superintendent” and has asked for her immediate removal.

The First Amendment Foundation in Tallahassee is aware of the potential violations but it is not known what action, if any, will be taken against Dr. Romano.

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Comments
  • The HCSB has been a disaster that I personally know of since early 2001. When the company I worked for HAD to do a network installation in the superintendent’s house / Home office before we would be considered for a contract to put the networks into the existing schools when they first started with the MOBILE classrooms at central and springstead. they were as corrupt then as they are now. this school system stinks. they all need to go , I’m still waiting to see where the tax increase for the schools has been spent.

    Monday, 3 April 2017, 4:54 pm
  • She needs to be fired now what else does she cover up

    Sunday, 2 April 2017, 9:01 pm
  • The tax increased was PIMPED by local civic groups, business people etc. to obtain passage after being rejected during the first go around. All they talked about was the ever present talking points of “it’s for the kids”, & “the schools need repairs”.
    Accounting of the money please?
    Oh no, hyped up consultants and seminars/ training sessions for highly paid staff.
    Taxpayer paid welfare to these hacks. Who is holding this people we pay accountable?

    Saturday, 1 April 2017, 8:28 pm
  • I too would like to know how Catapult is getting paid and why did DOE give them the $700,000 to begin with and not Catapult. The way the school district has handled money I’m sure thete are shady things going on. Bring on the auditors.
    Also, who actually attended this Silverthorn Retreat “workshop”? Were the board members present?

    Saturday, 1 April 2017, 7:46 pm
  • Tax increase? Not a chance. How about millage DECREASE?!

    Saturday, 1 April 2017, 8:32 am
  • What I would like to know is where is the $700,000 owed to Catapult coming from. I thought the district was broke. Probably coming from1/2 cent sales tax we all are paying for. Or perhaps from school programs. Oh I forgot, you already cut all those.

    Saturday, 1 April 2017, 8:06 am
    • The county has reserves at 35% per the 2017 approved budget. This rate is far and above the norm,which is about 18 or 19 percent with most other counties. In other words…the HCBOCC is hoarding at OUR expense and shifting the costs of school supplies etc…onto OUR shoulders, all while crying ‘poor mouth’. And you wonder why they attempted to restrict the Sheriff’s budget! LOL! Huge pile of money just waiting to be picked clean and most residents don’t have a clue on how to find the budget online…or read it. tax increase? Not a change. How about millage DECREASE?!

      Saturday, 1 April 2017, 8:31 am
  • Dennis that is because all they ever do is vote for the person there political party tells them to vote for . Non partisan my butt .

    Friday, 31 March 2017, 10:20 pm
  • Ho hum……bunch of crap and hooey. The citizens get all up in arms about this but where were they last November when this superintendants actions and the boards lack of integrity were on the line in the election? People – including a vast majority of school system staff – say they want change and get all up in arms about stuff like this but then don’t show up and put up when the opportunity presents itself. Ho hum.

    Friday, 31 March 2017, 6:17 pm
  • As a teacher in this County, I am outraged. My school cannot even get copy paper and yet they spend all that money on a retreat? $165 per hour sounds great, except it is costing our students here the proper education they deserve. My school is also lacking in technology, something that reaches students, and they want to spend the money on themselves. She needs to go, NOW!

    Friday, 31 March 2017, 11:30 am
    • You would have to pay me $170 an hour just listen to Dennis Alfonso’s lies. His law firm is a huge rip off.

      Friday, 31 March 2017, 12:53 pm
    • Exactly Tom..but why no paper? Every student is required to bring in 3 reams of paper. At 23000 students thats 69000 reams. The schools buy nothing..students buy it all even cleaning products. All the schools money goes to salaries

      Friday, 31 March 2017, 2:49 pm
  • You can see where your 1/2 cent sales tax is going. Shame on everyone who voted for it.

    Friday, 31 March 2017, 6:45 am
  • I am a resident. I am not outraged.

    Friday, 31 March 2017, 2:28 am
  • Really?

    Thursday, 30 March 2017, 10:59 pm
    • Is this the real Jane Citizen or the one from public records (request) lol

      Friday, 31 March 2017, 8:57 am
  • Hang ’em, shoot ’em. I don’t care, really. Just know that I’m better than you.

    Thursday, 30 March 2017, 10:51 pm
  • Where is the School Board?

    Thursday, 30 March 2017, 10:37 pm
  • Dan Dewitt , now there’s a REAL journalist!!?

    Thursday, 30 March 2017, 7:59 pm
  • It is time for the superintendent and her overpaid and under utilized high paid mouthpiece Ms.Jordan to say happy trails to Hernando County. I cannot recall anything positive occurring in the school district under Romanos leadership or lack thereof.
    However, their is one common thread. Begging for more taxpayer money year after year.

    Thursday, 30 March 2017, 5:12 pm
  • Why is it so hard for Hernando county to find a responsible , reputable,person to run our schools ,it seems like everyone we’ve had is shady and the board should know they are elected ,they can be replaced too. Step up and teach our children quit acting like children

    Thursday, 30 March 2017, 5:01 pm
    • Largely because of the poor quality of our school board members. Gus comes to mind.

      Friday, 31 March 2017, 11:15 am
  • And another thing…if the Silverthorn retreat was unannounced…WHO ratted her out and called the press? What…is the press PSYCHIC?! Wake up, people!

    Thursday, 30 March 2017, 4:44 pm
  • I harbor neither like nor dislike for Dr Romano. I’ve had no contact with her…but, if an overly-paid ‘leader’ lacks skill and doesn’t fit in…those around them will eventually set them up for a fall. And this is what I suspect is going on here. Someone surely dropped the ball and didn’t do their job in terms of calling publishers to announce the meeting in time, but I sincerely doubt Romano was the one responsible for doing such a menial task.Then there is the question…did Romano KNOW it was an illegal meeting? If so, then she was in the wrong for allowing it to happen.So…let me guess…someone in the goober network wants her job? It’s the way things work here. Watch and learn,folks.

    Thursday, 30 March 2017, 4:36 pm
    • What amazes me it is either time constraining, short notice, contract are coming up fast, there is always a reason for her to make the call without consult of the Board. If we don’t need them then let us stop paying 38000 + benefits 5xs. I say let the people vote their superintendent in.

      Thursday, 30 March 2017, 5:05 pm
      • Where we came from, School Board members received NOTHING for salary. Why do they, here? They are only on the SB to make money, while keeping their real job. How many meetings to they have each month? Divide that into their salaries…the per hour is OUTRAGEOUS!. Last year, we saw her at a meeting. When asked how many teachers have a Masters Degree, she said “NONE”. Both our daughters, teachers, have their Masters, one even has her Doctorate. She needs to GO, NOW.

        Friday, 31 March 2017, 2:16 pm
    • The two “parent advocates ” you have interviewed have personal vendettas against Dr Romano. They attend every school board meeting and insult the superintendent ever chance they can get. They are loud, crude, and only look for negative things to say. One of them has been banned from her child’s school. They get up and talk, just to talk. Most of the time it is to spew their poison!
      I’m pretty sure they lurk in the wings just to see if Dr Romano crosses her Ts and dots her I s. They try to shove their petition down everyone’s throats. I’m personally sick of them. They need to spend more time helping this district instead of pulling it apart.
      Where were these two “advocates” when Alexander was the Super? Seems they have a personal agenda, and don’t care about our district.
      Next time you see them, ask them where their kids go to school, and why.
      Dr Romano is all about the kids, and it shows! I’m also sure it wasn’t her plan, or idea to meet in a gated community. Give her the credit she deserves.

      Thursday, 30 March 2017, 6:39 pm
      • This comment is exactly what the majority of the people in this county think!!!!!

        Thursday, 30 March 2017, 7:23 pm
      • Amen!!

        Thursday, 30 March 2017, 8:20 pm
      • Hi Gus!

        Thursday, 30 March 2017, 8:29 pm
      • The fact that you recognize the names of the parents says you know enough to know that you just created a malicious libel. There is nothing personal going on. Daniel Underwood is an educated special ed teacher with 9 years of teaching experience who failed to get accommodation for her dyslexic daughter at Chocochatti. So she went to the television news. For that and that alone the principal trespassed her from her daughters school Now THAT is a personal vendetta. And it has been backed up by the most incompetent superintendent I’ve ever had the displeasure to meet and I’ve arrested a few in my day/

        Friday, 31 March 2017, 11:13 am
      • First of all that is your opinion. Those two ladies helped me with my child to get what he deserved. If it wasnt for Pam and Danielle my son would still be struggling with no IEP. NOW they know I do not agree with everything they say or feel. And they have never downed me for that. They are good ladies trying to bring change. Danielle has been wronged by this county as pam has two. I try very hard not to get ugly at the school board meetings or anywheres, but let me ask you GUS, how can you sleep at night when our children do not have what they have the right to have. I prey to GOD you never have to feel like these children or parents have had to feel. One thing i do know is GOD will be your judge and you will be judged on your actions towards others.

        Friday, 31 March 2017, 2:29 pm
  • Wake up board of commissioners and get rid of this chick. Hernando County is the most corrupt county in the state of Florida and this is a shining example of that comment.

    Thursday, 30 March 2017, 4:30 pm
  • And after she is thrown out she needs to take her pet Gus out of town with her.

    Thursday, 30 March 2017, 4:21 pm
  • Hernando county once again feels certain factions are ABOVE THE LAW!!!! Most expensive band fees, but she gets $145,000.00 plus monetary incentives. Buses infested with cockroaches, she gets $145,000.00. Is your child REALLY GETTING THE EDUCATION YOU ARE PAYING TAXES FOR???? I’M SURE YOU CAN COME UP WITH MORE EXAMPLES.

    Thursday, 30 March 2017, 4:07 pm
    • Let me add to this she gets this salary as Gus says she is the lowest paid superintendent Look at what the other counties are making., yes Hernando District is not in the top salary., but her compensations are well above the others. Now pay close attention to the number of students, schools and staff these other districts have. She has 23000 students and 1600 staff. This is nothing in comparison to the other districts. So per number she oversees, this would make her one of the highest paid superintendents in the state.

      Thursday, 30 March 2017, 5:01 pm
      • I agree with you 100 percent! Our tax dollars at work half cent sales tax!

        Thursday, 30 March 2017, 8:26 pm
    • Many schools also do not have enough text books for the amount of children enrolled in the curriculum and some don’t even have more than a class set.

      Thursday, 30 March 2017, 6:02 pm
      • My daughter had NO books this year. Teachers told me I could purchase online.

        Friday, 31 March 2017, 9:22 am
        • Were you able to purchase them online? I dont see a real problem asking a child’s parent to buy a book that will help help the child learn. Are you saying your child is not worth you, the parent, buying a book?

          Friday, 31 March 2017, 5:57 pm
          • or maybe consider when i went to school in a public tax funded class we didnt have to buy everything from toilet paper to the books. it was all part the tax system and provided by various services via government programs. now they have more people higher taxes and are demanding the parents buy the basics. maybe just maybe if you had some common sense youd see the funds arent being appropriated correctly. either stupidity or corruption. the system relies on ignorant people like yourself to stay floating.

            Friday, 31 March 2017, 11:23 pm
          • Did you take into consideration that not all parents can afford to purchase such items. We do have many title one schools in this district

            Friday, 31 March 2017, 11:37 pm
          • Another parent, I can agree money gets tight. Since we are in tax season, did you save anything for next school year. Could you put $300 aside from your tax return? This would allow your children to have what they need. If you are underemployed or unemployed do Whatever you can to provide your child with the necessary education so they can break the cycle while giving them the estimate opportunity to be successful. If your children fail it’s because you taught him/her failure was acceptable. Don’t let politics be the excuse for not being sucessful.

            Saturday, 1 April 2017, 2:07 pm
          • Food for thought, why do you think money is being misappropriated? Please don’t mistake my defense of the budget as agreement with the superintendent’s actions.

            Saturday, 1 April 2017, 2:19 pm
          • “Another Parent” Stop buying meth and you could afford it, stop going out to eat and you can afford it, there shouldnt be any excuse on why you cant give your child what they need for an education….oh, an even better idea…dont have any more kids you lame

            Monday, 3 April 2017, 7:03 pm
          • “Opinionated” ive read all your comments, and I think out of all the time ive spent trolling this site, you are the only bright person I have came across. Kudos to you mam/sir

            Monday, 3 April 2017, 7:05 pm
        • and countless number of teachers have to buy supplies for the whole class cause you trash parents send your kids to school with nothing.

          Monday, 3 April 2017, 7:00 pm

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