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Letter From School Board Explains Why Former Hernando County Superintendent Was Fired

Jun 28, 2018

A letter of termination released by the Hernando County School Board this week outlines why former superintendent Lori Romano was fired. But some board members still have questions.

The formal letter of notice that ends Romano’s contract was drafted by the board’s lawyer, Dennis Alfonso.

Effective June 30, the board will remove Romano from office for “insubordination, immorality and breach of contract.”

Among the reasons listed in the letter was concerns over how she handled a failing elementary school and how she communicated with the board.

Gus Guadagnino, a board member who opposed Romano’s termination, still questions the grounds stated in the letter.

“What is in here?” Guadagnino said. “I’ve read every page in here and I don’t know what is in here that says, ‘Get rid of her and get rid of her immediately.’ Did she steal a million dollars? Did she violate some[thing]? What is it? I got to know.”

Romano still has a 10-day window to appeal her firing. If Romano can’t prove why she was wrongfully terminated, she may have to pay the board $25,000. This money will go towards a search for a new superintendent.

Earlier this year, in an attempt to revamp a failing Moton Elementary School, Romano decided to dismiss the school’s entire teaching staff. This move triggered action from members of the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association which led to a settlement between the union and the district.

Grades released by the Florida Department of Education Wednesday showed that contrary to Romano’s concerns, Moton Elementary School’s grades actually improved from a “D” to a “C.”  The school had a “D” rating for the past two years.

Unlike the 3-2 vote to fire Romano earlier this month, the board voted unanimously to name John Stratton as the Interim Superintendent. He’ll serve in that position until the end of the 2018-2019 school year, or until a permanent replacement is found. His annual salary will be $124,000.

Because the firing is listed as “for cause,” the district does not have to give Romano severance pay.

Despite the controversy around Romano’s position, she still remains optimistic about the district moving forward.

“This is a great school district,” Romano said. “We were able to identify several powerful practices in Hernando County that folks in other districts would certainly benefit from knowing about.”