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School District Promotions and Nomination Questioned, Some Say Direct Conflict

HERNANDO – There was no shortage of drama in the halls of the Hernando County School Board Tuesday, as concerned parents delivered 3-minute speeches on such topics as opting out of the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) and issues with the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) program.

Tempers flared at one point during the meeting when sources say well-known community critic, Dennis Purdy, called Board Member Gus Guadagnino an expletive, resulting in his immediate removal.

Eyebrows began to rise when Pam Everett stepped to the podium and began reading the school board’s policy on relatives working together in the same district. Although it is not automatically prohibited, the policy does state that employees working under the direct supervision of another would be a conflict. That’s exactly what Everett says happened when former Central High School Principal John Stratton was promoted to Director for Academic Services on August 9th. Stratton’s wife Kristina Stratton is principal of Westside Elementary, which would be a direct conflict if she reported directly to her husband. Of course John’s job description says he has a variety of responsibilities including providing support to assistant principals, secondary programs and the technology Information Services Department. Spokesperson Karen Jordan tells RNRF that Mr. Stratton will not be supervising principals, but there may be a bigger problem.

Less than a week after John’s promotion, his wife Kristina was nominated for Hernando County’s Outstanding Leader of the Year.

Everett and others concerned over the announcement aren’t questioning Karen’s accomplishments; they just feel the timing smells a little fishy.

We asked School Board Member Mark Johnson what he thought of the controversy and although he wasn’t positive, he says the decision may have been made long ago. He also believes school principals will be reporting directly to the newly appointed Deputy Superintendent Gina Michalicka who incidentally was the former Director of Academic Services and Principal of Westside Elementary. They may also report directly to Superintendent Lori Romano.

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  • Over the years, I have resided in several different school districts. And much to my dismay, Hernando County has to be by far the worst run school district I have seen. The decisions reached by the administrators leave no logical explanation for supposed informed School Board members making the decisions they make, other than that they are trying to make this the worst school district in history. Some easy examples 1. Hire a Superintendant, let that person allow the scores to drop then reward them by paying them more money when they threaten to leave. 2. Take a first time principal, that allows the school grade to drop so far, that the only thing that prevented them from being an F school, was the rules holding the grade drop to only 1 step. Result, promote this person to a higher position, not once, but twice in 3 years. 3. Redistrict the entire area to eliminate overcrowding, only to allow so many use school choice to overcrowd the schools that were changed to eliminate this problem in the first place. 4. Move the majority of school administrators from school to school effectively eliminating any possibility of them creating a stable learning enviroment. 5. Keep adding more and more high level administrators to the School Board office, costing extremely high cost, while not even paying teachers enough to keep up with Cost of Living increases and not having almost no school supplies for the teachers to teach their students without them payig hundreds of dollars out of pocket. In my opinion, the best thing we all could do is continue to hire new School Board members until someone starts to get it right because these people have no clue.

    Monday, 22 August 2016, 11:24 pm
    • I totally agree with you , and it also the firty and dirty school district I ever work in, I was told by the New Superintendance to give her a report in how the chemical etc. is working, She terminated me after I came from having surgery , and they fabricated along with DOAH lies and threaten my co workers if they didn’t testified against me , they would lose their jobs. what corruption there is in Hernando County District. She has not respect for hard workers. She claim to be reorganzing when in fact she just making sure she get her pay check.

      Monday, 5 September 2016, 1:08 pm
  • Many years ago I applied for a Screen Printing Managerial position at Gus’ business and he told me that a woman cannot do as good as a job as a man for this type of position. I have over 20 years of experience as a silk screen printer and was a manager in my previous job in St. Petersburg, Florida and also worked for Bic. I would not vote for him if he was the last man on earth he is very sexist.

    Saturday, 20 August 2016, 2:11 pm
    • Oh you knew him when he was cheating on his wife then. So did I. I so agree with you. I’d never vote this lying, no good jerk in either. His business is terrible. I had them make a banner for me once and not only was it late and expensive, it was the most horrible thing you could imagine. I’ve never used Joni since, and I do not recommend them.

      Sunday, 21 August 2016, 3:16 pm
  • Hey Tom…..please look into the recent rezoning and lack of bus service for the students that were forced to change schools. And not providing bus service or crossing guards even on spring hill dr.
    I’M TALKING ABOUT JD FLOYD…..and the many children who rezoned from suncoast elementary…..
    That’s what’s important….the children !!!! …not these law breaking money making board members….

    Friday, 19 August 2016, 3:02 pm
  • School Board members should not be paid one red cent, whatsoever. They should not get benefits and retirement pensions, either! Where we came from, up north, school board members worked for the kids, not themselves. They all had outside jobs. Why does Florida pay for school board member, anyway? Over half our tax dollars go for the schools. Cut their salaries, and force them to work with what they have, not what they want.

    Friday, 19 August 2016, 1:54 pm
    • Amen. The positions would then be filled with people not using the board as a political climb

      Friday, 19 August 2016, 11:33 pm
  • about the ese classes! omg! don’t get me started! Tom you should do a piece on that alone! tell me why a non verbal non communicating child, who actually had a bed at the school, is even in a school setting! this is a waste of money! it is a babysitter position! these kids i am talking about are those who will never be able to be taught history or math let alone how to change themselves and we pay for a over qualified special needs teacher and an assistant or 2 in the medical fragile class! if you want to help the parents provide a daycare but do not hire all these teachers and para to sit the children all day!

    Friday, 19 August 2016, 11:48 am
  • We live just over 2 miles from Central High but they had zoned us for Weeki Wachee, which is 4.5 miles away. We could not get busing because we were too close to Central and West Hernando yet they wanted to change my daughter to a school much farther away. The zoning map for Central is absolutely ridiculous. Want a laugh, take a look at it, makes no sense whatsoever. I have very little faith in these Rocket Scientists and Space Cadets.

    Friday, 19 August 2016, 11:19 am
  • Wow!!! What a mess. New blood is needed on the Board. Foreman is leaving by his choice. I bet he will be going for the REC chairmanship. He is backing a removed Springstead coach for BOCC. He will run for Dukes spot. Our taxes will go up again, if he is elected. Holy Crap. More of the same.

    Friday, 19 August 2016, 10:47 am
  • I have worked with ESE and Hospital Homebound for the past 13 years as my son has needed them throughout his schooling. Even though there were some hickups at times, everything worked well throughout and he graduated with a standard diploma last year at 19 years old after not starting to read until he was 12. It was a family effort as did a lot of homework with him but it is well worth it. We had to be his greatest advocate which means a lot of patience but tough when we had to be. But the number one thing for parents is involvement. PTA and School Advisory Council which needs 51% parents and non-employees to even hold a meeting along with chaperone of field trips and classroom volunteering help your cause. Plus it also allows you to understand what is going on. Become friends before foes.

    Friday, 19 August 2016, 9:58 am
    • M, Let me begin by congratulating your son on his success, and to you for always being there to advocate for him. As a parent who raised four children, and now helping my grandson, here in the Hernando County School district I could not agree more. It is easy, and much less time consuming, to sit back and expect the system to educate while sitting back complaining regarding their efforts. Get involved, join the PTA, SAC, make an effort to show up and form a relationship with their educators, volunteer at your children’s school, and last but certainly not lease be a presence at the school board meetings. Working together lifts us all, and our children’s education is worth it.

      Saturday, 20 August 2016, 2:20 pm
  • Remember bus route 123 last year, where the kid was beating on other kids and nothing happened? That’s because that little imp was the bus drivers son!
    If you are an employee at the school board (transportation included), there is no punishment for their kids, and the general publics kids suffer, all due to horrible parenting.
    And that’s what’s teaching and around our future leaders.
    Hernando County is corrupt as hell, all the way around.

    Friday, 19 August 2016, 8:31 am
  • Thanks Tom!! I’m new to the district so I like to hear what’s going on. So far this district is so backwards from what I can see. They cry poverty, yet they just are buying a $10,000 coffee maker ?!? The zoning of the schools is mind boggling. I have 2 high schools closer to where I live, yet I’m driving almost an half hour past one of the schools to get to the one we are zone for. That’s all gas and time for busses to go across County to drop kids off. I just don’t get this districts decisions.

    Friday, 19 August 2016, 7:58 am
  • Purdy being perp-walked out of a HCSB meeting? Now THAT is news! Where are the pics,Tom?

    Friday, 19 August 2016, 7:44 am
    • Purdy was thrown out of the meeting because of his foul mouth.

      Friday, 19 August 2016, 9:34 am
  • Negative reporting creates negative atmosphere

    Friday, 19 August 2016, 6:23 am
    • Truthful reporting creates a truthful atmosphere.

      Friday, 19 August 2016, 7:37 am
  • The Strattons can’t be as wonderful as the people commenting on here are saying. Their daughter went to school with my daughter. Their child is greatly disturbed. She got angry & destroyed a class project but no punishment because her mother worked at the school. Then, she threatened my daughter with scissors and said how she stabs her stuffed animals with scissors because it makes her feel better! And of course, no repercussions! They are enableing their budding psychopathic child!

    Friday, 19 August 2016, 2:27 am
  • Perhaps someone should have thought of this before they were even appointed to those positions? Oh, wait a minute. This is Hernando County and that might have made sense. Silly me.

    Friday, 19 August 2016, 12:48 am
  • No one that won’t kiss their *** will ever get to talk from anyone from the schools.

    Thursday, 18 August 2016, 11:50 pm
    • Keep up the great work Mr. Purdy. We need more people to light the fire under these buttheads butts. You are under their skin and they know it. Unfortunately these people all need replaced because they do not have the children and tax payers best interest at heart. A bunch of morons running our school system and teaching.

      Hernando County is corrupt as hell and Mr. Purdy is one who will stand up for what is right, and legal.

      Friday, 19 August 2016, 10:10 am
      • I am a teacher in this County, I am no “moron.” If you think you can do better teaching students you are welcome to come in and try.

        Friday, 19 August 2016, 9:19 pm
  • Clean house starting with Lori Romano.

    Thursday, 18 August 2016, 11:25 pm
  • What a shame. Politics, Politics and more Politics.
    You know you hit a nerve when the teachers union trolls start writing.

    Thursday, 18 August 2016, 10:39 pm
  • You say “some” say is a conflict? During the three minutes this policy was read by one person. So I’m a little confused and believe this to be misleading to those who didn’t see the meeting. No discussion followed, other than the foul mouthed man that disrupts any county meeting he can.

    Also, I am constantly amazed as to how many “stories” you report regarding the schools in Hernando County. Why must you continue to try and drag them down? Perhaps find some positive items to report… I assure you they outweigh the negative! You cover other counties, yet I never see you covering those school districts the same. At some point one might think you are targeting this district? Two articles in one week and only the second week of school. You couldn’t find anything positive to “report”?

    We need to work together as a community!

    Thursday, 18 August 2016, 10:38 pm
      • Hi Tom, if you want to grow RNRF in a professional way you’ll continue to do exactly as your doing and as you replied here. The taxpayers deserve to know the real truth about 100% of school district business. Not all the good and not all the bad, the real truth in all issues.
        Ironically, the school district & board should feel the same about this topic.

        We are in a district that always is always in a deficit and short of money. Yet, there is little effort made to conserve and or save throughout the entire operating budget. Two prime examples:

        1) District went out and agreed to a lease agreement w/ Dell Computers years ago ($8.1 Million dollars) and this contract was never bid. It was an egregious act that went on w/ the board’s approval in a time when district was short of money. It was a horrible decision and the entire district is still suffering from it.

        2) HVAC (Air Conditioning & Heating costs & energy conservation) temperatures in schools across the district are way out of sync w/ the professional standard of 75 degrees. Every single office, classroom, and the hallways in every single school should be the same median temperature. Every effort should be made to help meet this goal and it’s been ignored for the past 15 years. Blinds pulled to the ceiling in every classroom in numerous schools & doors chained open on 95 degree days. Professional Consulting Engineers willing to give the district free energy audit w/ a complete report and the district is either too lazy and or too stupid to bother receiving this type of support. The only people that suffer is every single taxpayer in the district. When we have various different schools w/ classrooms & offices at 62 degrees and or 65 degrees in is UNACCEPTABLE, period. Hernando School district can get professional case studies comparing the inefficiencies of their HVAC’s systems now vs. the competition that will provide FREE analysis w/ conservation, real future costs of equipment and exact ways to make changes immediately to give immediate dollars saved.

        How in God’s Name can a decade pass and this district not be interested in this? It’s the same willful disinterest from one superintendent to another. From one group of school board members to another. No one in the district is every accountable for their departments and it’s same ole same ole year after year. When does this stop?

        No matter what change, not matter how small and or how large and or whether it benefits the children, whether it protects the kids and or whether it saves the district millions the district is not interested. Day after day after day….

        When confronted w/ these facts the district doesn’t want to talk about it. I can give further examples on the small scale where there isn’t necessarily cost saving, but where the kids health & safety would greatly improve w/ little to no additional costs paid out. This district could care less… I’ve never seen anything like it.

        Lastly, are we as adults here to serve the children and their best interest and or is this a huge trough to simple keeping taking anyway the employees can despite whatever harm it causes.
        Even the basic common sense of real safety plans and real implementation of keeping kids safe is ignored and not disregarded because of the self interested attitudes and in house jealousy and one department competing against another.

        We are all here to help the children ad to protect the children aren’t we Hernando County School District?

        Friday, 19 August 2016, 1:16 am
        • VERY well stated. I agree 100%.

          Friday, 19 August 2016, 7:20 am
      • Good job Tom. Don’t let the Turkey’s get you down.

        Friday, 19 August 2016, 6:45 am
      • good job Tom!!!

        Friday, 19 August 2016, 9:14 am
      • What about the Super’s Summer Reading Challenge that, obviously, took place this summer. BTW – the kids that won their challenge for their school & grade were recognized at the beginning of this meeting. They worked hard with their summer reading and were rewarded for what they did. Betcha missed that part of the meeting… didn’t see you there.

        Friday, 19 August 2016, 1:43 pm
  • Tom first were you talking about Kristina or Karen, I am confused? Secondly how can you report nonsense like this, do principals of schools tell you how to do your job, don’t think so? What if you won an award and someone reported that you got it because of your wife working as your boss, how would you feel? WOW! What a poor excuse for a news website! Way to steal a good person’s accomplishments!

    Thursday, 18 August 2016, 9:31 pm
    • If this is such a poor excuse for a news website like you stated, then why are you here posting your nonsense?

      Friday, 19 August 2016, 7:15 am
  • First off, her name is Kristina. You call her Karen on several accounts in this article. John Stratton is absolutely one of the most qualified people to hold this position. I worked with him when he was an assistant principal, and again as a principal. I have only had the pleasure to meet Mrs. Stratton a few times, but find her very genuine, dedicated, and knowledgeable. The District’s statement of her accomplishments are all spot on. As for the issues with the ESE Department, I am an ESE teacher, as well as the parent of two children and grandparent to one child who came through the ESE system here in the County. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience-and before you go there, I wasn’t a teacher or school employee when my children were in school. You will be hard pressed to find a more dedicated group of people than those who work with Exceptional Students.

    Thursday, 18 August 2016, 8:48 pm
    • Get bent lady…….you’re all in bed together.

      Thursday, 18 August 2016, 11:57 pm
  • oh thats ok look what old Geogie Carr is up too. Still breakin the law

    Thursday, 18 August 2016, 8:46 pm
  • You should look into the school bus problem.. We have none.. I wait at my kids school for a hour and a half everyday to pick them up.

    Thursday, 18 August 2016, 8:38 pm

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