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Elia’s leadership style again called into question

By Joe Henderson | Tribune Staff

Published: August 20, 2014

When the Hillsborough County School Board voted 4-2 last week to extend Superintendent MaryEllen Elia’s contract by one year, let’s just say there were bigger stories that day in our city.

Even given her often-fractious relationship with some board members, bringing Elia back for a 10th year on the job was never in question. She has a rolling three-year contract that automatically extends a year if she scores high enough on the combined evaluation of the seven board members. The board’s actual vote is largely for show.

Feds will investigate allegations that Hillsborough district shortchanges black students...

TAMPA — The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights has asked the Hillsborough County school district 42 questions based on an allegation that it is shortchanging minority students.

School bus drivers concerned about safety

Apollo Beach, Florida -- Angry words were greeted by applause Monday night as almost 100 school bus drivers and maintenance workers met in Apollo Beach to talk about antiquated buses, student safety, and a lack of respect.

Hills. school bus drivers: We aren't trained to transport medically fragile students

Tampa, Fl - As the Hillsborough County School Board continues to finalize a settlement after a special-needs student's death, concern remains over the school bus system and safety issues.

Some bus drivers said caring for special needs students can be a huge responsibility for very little pay. Drivers said they are not properly trained to take care of medically challenged students and they fear if something happens to one of those students on a bus, they will be held responsible.

Bus drivers tell Hillsborough County School Board top-down change is needed.....

Tampa, Fl - One after another, Hillsborough County school bus drivers lined up to address the school board.

"This is the eighth largest district in this country and we look like fools," Sheila Mingo said.

"There definitely has to be some changes here folks. We're losing drivers," Kelmie Bigelow said.

Kyinesha Johnson's family sues Hillsborough Schools after Stephanie Wilkerson seen on video literally kicking 8-year-old girl off a school bus

Tampa, Florida- The Hillsborough School District faces yet another lawsuit from a family with a disabled child. They seek at least $15,000 in damages.

The district has been under scrutiny for several cases involving injuries and two student deaths.

Hillsborough School Board requires financial disclosures for top staff...

TAMPA — Senior staff in the Hillsborough County school district will have to file financial disclosure forms, the School Board decided Tuesday.

"My goal is to ensure that we have transparency in this district, to restore the public's confidence," said chairwoman April Griffin, who introduced the motion late in the meeting.

Teacher's emails reveal problems at Rodgers months before student's death...

TAMPA - Classrooms for disabled students were so understaffed there wasn't time to give kids all the care they needed. Bathroom duty was so overwhelming, staff spent more time cleaning than teaching.

Jodi White, a veteran teacher, repeatedly reported these and other conditions affecting special-needs kids at Rodgers Middle School in Riverview. Her emails, obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, went to the principal's office and area headquarters in the months before Jennifer Caballero, an 11-year-old with Down syndrome, drowned in a pond behind the school.


TAMPA — In the first Hillsborough County School Board meeting since the superintendent and the district's attorney were overheard making comments over a hot microphone, everyone had something to say.

Superintendent MaryEllen Elia hadn't realized her microphone was on earlier this month when it picked up her remarks to the district's attorney about the need to balance critical comments from parents with those who support the schools.

Tampa mom fights to keep her disabled son in neighborhood school..........

TAMPA, Fla. - Roberta Moore is fighting to keep her disabled son in his neighborhood school.

"I want to understand why this change was made," Moore asked the Hillsborough County School Board on Tuesday.

Moore's son Daniel, 10, has Down syndrome. For the last three-and-a-half years, he's been a student at Mabry Elementary School........

Hillsborough County School Board Meeting- 10/13 @ 3 PM

Raymond O. Shelton School Administration Center
901 East Kennedy Blvd
Tampa, Fl 33602


In Hillsborough County the public school district is entrusted with a $2.8 billion budget that directly impacts 200,000 students, 30,000 employees and hundreds of vendors and service providers.

A seven member board of elected officials are tasked with overseeing these dollars and providing oversight.

Ultimately, however,it falls upon the citizenry to monitor the conduct and expenditures of public dollars and the quality of education being provided to children.

Reports of many children being unfairly disciplined and referred to law enforcement in this district have been featured prominently in the local media and underscores the need for parents, family members and all stakeholders to actively participate in the educational process.

Recent developments regarding the School Board and Superintendent moving towards a less punitive disciplinary policy is a promising step in the right direction.

Please consider attending this upcoming school board meeting to add your voice to the call for fundamental fairness for all children and families.