New Sarasota County School Board could vote to fire superintendent at Tuesday’s special meeting

Discussion heats up on terminating contract of Sarasota County School Superintendent.
Discussion heats up on terminating contract of Sarasota County School Superintendent.(WWSB)
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 9:47 PM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Sarasota County School Board is holding a special meeting on Tuesday where the board could vote to fire superintendent Dr. Brennan Asplen. The new board now has a conservative majority of 4 to 1 including two new members who were sworn in last week.

“It raises questions, how brand new school board members who hadn’t had a substantive conversation with the superintendent about the executive runnings of the school district could vote to terminate,” said Tom Edwards, a Sarasota County School Board member. “They would be basing their decisions purely on hearsay and political agendas.”

No reason has been given yet as to why the board wants to terminate Asplen’s contract. There have been many people supporting him, but also those who say it’s time for him to go.

“I just think we need a clean slate and Dr. Asplen is not a good fit,” said Melissa Bakondy, a concerned parent. “He has not shown leadership skills that Sarasota County needs to be No. 1. “He may be a nice guy, but I do not believe he is what Sarasota County needs.”

The Sarasota Classified Teachers Association says it’s very wrong on how this is being handled.

“It was so inappropriate on their very first action of the new school board to be looking to discuss terminating a superintendent,” said Rex Ingerick, president of the Sarasota Classified Teachers Association, “that’s been wildly popular amongst the employees, and our staff has a great deal of support for the people who are actually doing the work of educating our students.”

Asplen had recently signed a new three-year contract and he was rated as highly effective. Edwards says this will have financial implications and hurt the students.

“The public humiliation that this board has brought on him and his wife and his reputation is, in my mind, unforgivable,” said Edwards.

This special school board meeting is happening on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Here’s the statement ABC7 had received from Dr. Brennan Asplen on Monday night.

To our Sarasota County Schools employees, families, and community:

As has been reported in the media, I was contacted about working out a mutually agreeable separation from the School District shortly after last Tuesday’s board meeting at which the motion to terminate my contract was made. Though my wife and I were highly disappointed and plummeted into emotional turmoil by last Tuesday’s motion, after much reflection over the Thanksgiving holiday, it is with a heavy heart that I have accepted the fact that I will soon be separated by the School Board, as a collaborative relationship does not appear to be attainable. To that end, I seek not to be a distraction from the passionately steadfast commitment of our SCS teachers, administrators, employees, and the greater parent/student community. I want the Sarasota County School District to heal; I desire for our community to be at peace. There is a board meeting scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) evening at which the School Board will discuss its motion to terminate. I will work respectfully and constructively with the board to achieve an acceptable resolution to my employment separation. I ask that all attending the meeting do so with the same spirit in mind.

I have the utmost sincere confidence in the many talented and dedicated people who comprise our school district family. On the day I was sworn to your service, I entered Sarasota County Schools with the sole intention to work beyond the division and distrust that existed here and to restore a collaborative culture that would provide the best possible climate so that each student can reach his or her highest potential. My wife and I uprooted and invested our life here, both professionally and personally, with full intention to be part of this community into retirement. I wholeheartedly embraced SCS with high expectation and full commitment to its bright future, united to work as one for the success of all. I saw a district that was poised for growth and soaring achievement. I believe our Strategic Plan has focused us on an even stronger trajectory for the success of our students, despite the outside noise that often overshadows the vision. Division and hostility have never been part of my leadership fiber. This is why I have always held that our school district could collectively rise above the noise, and “do the work.” I still believe this. If I have one request, please do better by your next Superintendent; allow that individual to freely be the instructional leader focused on student achievement, not dragged into the quagmire of the political arena. With all due respect, please do not allow that to be Sarasota’s legacy.

In closing, in the aftermath of last Tuesday’s board meeting, I am completely humbled by the abundant outpouring of support from our past and present Sarasota County Schools teachers, administrators and support staff, our SC/TA Union, our business and community leaders, our committed foundations, the Herald Tribune and the good citizens of Sarasota. I wish Sarasota County Schools only the brightest future and healing. Please know that I leave you with the sincerest assurance that I have labored to faithfully serve our students, community, and SCS family of employees.