Former Chief Executive Officer of All Saints Academy in Winter Haven, John Wilkinson, recently hired as the next CFO of Hernando County Schools, announced in an email to the district Tuesday he will not be able to take the position.
The announcement comes about two weeks after Wilkinson’s wife of 24 years was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disorder caused by inflammation when immune cells attack the central nervous system, causing damage to the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells, slowing down or stopping nerve signals.
“We will be returning to Ohio where we are from originally,” Wilkinson said. “The diagnosis comes to us as a shock but it does provide answers to a lot of questions we have had about her health over the years.”
Wilkinson said that since last weekend he and his wife have realized, with the potential need for support, they needed to return home.
Wilkinson said he is grateful for the opportunity the district extended to him, calling his sudden departure unfortunate for all. It’s a similar tone reflected in his email addressed to School Superintendent Bryan Blavatt and Executive Director of Business Services Heather Martin.
“I have been struggling this week about the position with you — not that I don’t want the position. It is the logistics,” Wilkinson wrote. “It is necessary for us to move back up north to be close to family for help and support with our four children as we walk through this time.”
“I am so sorry to send you this email. I have to look at this through what is best for my family and not just me,” Wilkinson added. “I have prayed hard about what to do. I have asked for advice from my mentors and friends in trying to come up with a solution to this dilemma and family must come first.”
Wilkinson was hired in April, and was scheduled to begin work May 29.
An advertisement for chief financial officer was posted the same day Wilkinson informed the district he could not take the position. The advertisement does not specify a close date, or whether the position needs to be filled as soon as possible, although district officials have expressed urgency to do so in light of upcoming budgets.
MS affects women more than men, according to the National Institutes of Health, and is most commonly diagnosed between ages 20 and 40, but can be seen at any age.
The conventional belief is a virus, gene defect or both, as well as environmental factors, cause MS. The likelihood of one having MS is slightly greater with a family history of MS, or living in parts of the world where MS is more common.
“I appreciate all that you have done for me, and I am truly sorry that I cannot move forward with Hernando County,” Wilkinson wrote. “But I feel that it is the best for all…”