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School's out for Alexander

Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 13, 2013 at 01:23 PM

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BROOKSVILLE -

The school board and Hernando County Superintendent Wayne Alexander reached a termination agreement that would allow him to work until Sept. 11 and to collect salary and benefits for 30 days thereafter.
The board voted 4-1 on Thursday to approve the amended employment agreement, which was negotiated between Alexander and Chairwoman Dianne Bonfield.
He would receive $14,383.62, which includes the stipends he earned by completing two certifications through the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, according to the agreement.
James Yant was out of town, but participated in Thursday's meeting via telephone.
"In looking at this particular situation, it appears as though we have to accept this contract simply because the majority of the board voted there was no breach of contract (in January)," said Yant. "We can't say incompetence applies because the majority of the board gave him a reasonably good evaluation. We have no (choice) but to accept this proposal. Is that right?"
Paul Carland, the school board's attorney, said it was up to each board member how to vote.
"I'm reluctant to approve this, but it appears we have no other option based on what the contract says," Yant said.
Carland reiterated his point that the board members could vote however they felt, but added there were "lengthy back-and-forth discussions" between both him and Bonfield before an agreement was reached.
Alexander and Bonfield did not speak directly. Carland represented Alexander during the discussions. He said he and the chairwoman communicated, on average, two or three times a day since Aug. 11, when Bonfield announced she wanted Alexander removed.
Yant decided to vote against the agreement. He has said Alexander violated the provisions of his contract early in the year when he interviewed for jobs in New England without telling the board. Alexander was not hired for the three jobs he applied for.
An emotional Alexander thanked the school board members who voted to terminate his contract.
"I'll try to hold back tears," he said. "I want to thank the four of you and Mr. Carland ... This has been a tremendous experience."
Alexander said he had other business and walked out of the board room.
"I would like to wish Dr. Alexander the best," said Yant, who asked to speak immediately after the superintendent thanked everyone but him. "There's no animosity, and I wish you the best in the future."
Alexander was already out the door before Yant finished his comments.
"What a long, strange road it's been," said board member John Sweeney at the start of the ensuing recess.
The board also decided to invite a group of candidates to the next public meeting to fill the interim superintendent's position.
Both Yant and Pat Fagan said they wanted Assistant Superintendent Sonya Jackson to fill the role.
"It think it's only appropriate that Ms. Jackson take over as interim superintendent," Fagan said. "She deserves it. We're talking about a short period of time, and we need an individual who knows the system."
Jackson said after the meeting she would be interested in taking the job.
Bonfield said she preferred someone outside of the district who is "unencumbered" with the ongoing tasks facing some of the administrators. Jackson is heading the investigation into why some of the schools have adopted an adjusted grading scale against the wishes of the board. Bonfield mentioned that case specifically during Thursday's meeting.
For the interim superintendent position, she recommended Edward S. Poore, who has served the district as a principal for all school levels and also handled union negotiations while an administrator in the human resources department, she said.
Fagan, in spite of putting his support behind Jackson, also recommended former school board member Jim Malcolm for the job.
"It would be very interesting to have him working with us," Sweeney joked.
The board members agreed they would recommend candidates and invite them to the next workshop, which is scheduled for Tuesday.
By law, the district must have an interim superintendent in place by Sept. 14, Carland said.


Reporter Tony Holt can be reached at 352-544-5283 or wholt@hernandotoday.com.

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