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Hernando County School Board Fires Superintendent

Courtesy Hernando County Schools
Superintendent Lori Romano (top center) was fired by the Hernando County School Board at its meeting Tuesday.

It was a normal Hernando County School Board meeting until an off-agenda item was added at its conclusion.

Three of the five school board members voted to fire Superintendent Lori Romano, a decision that will take effect June 30.

"Up until Moton, I was really hopeful that things were, in my opinion, turning around," said board member Linda Prescott. "I think when Moton happened, and how it happened ... I just could not, as a long-term teacher, accept that decision."

Prescott was referencing Romano's decision to fire all 47 teachers at Moton Elementary School in April. 

Moton was rated a "D" school two years in a row and the decision to fire all the teachers, said spokeswoman Karen Jordan, was supposed to give Moton a "fresh start."

At the meeting Tuesday, Romano sat alongside the board members who were firing her while they voted. 

"I'd like to know what the cause of the termination is if you're terminating me for cause or not for cause," Romano said. "So what is the cause of the termination from the contract, please?"

She wasn't given an answer. Instead, School Board Attorney Dennis Alfonso said an explanation will be provided in an official letter of termination, which will be presented to Romano on June 26.

"So you're terminating me publicly, and you're not even telling me what the cause is?" Romano asked.

Alfonso explained that she will have 10 days to contest the decision after she receives the letter.

The vote to fire Romano was not unanimous. Gus Guadagnino was one of two members who defended the superintendent. 

"I don't see any justification for getting somebody that has accomplished the things she has done and say 'We don't need you anymore,'" Guadagnino said. 

According to Guadagnino, the board had four goals when Romano started. He said those were achieved while Romano was superintendant. Graduation rates improved, dropout rates decreased, school grades went up and there were more industrial certifications.

"Tell me, who is going to come to this county after hearing about all of her accomplishments and even with that, you throw them out?" Guadagino asked. "I'm only one vote, you're only one vote. I think you're making the biggest mistake."

Sam Newlon interning as a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news reporter for spring 2018.
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