Sarasota County school board votes to separate from superintendent

by | Nov 30, 2022

  • The Sarasota County school board voted to enter exit negotiations with superintendent Brennan Asplen 
  • The motion passed via a 4-1 vote after the school board made its intent clear last week 
  • Negotiations between attorneys for the school board and Asplen began in the lead-up to Tuesday night’s meeting but were ultimately paused 
  • School board members criticized the lack of data transparency under Asplen’s administration as well as the lack of progress in core learning subjects 

On Tuesday night, the Sarasota County school board voted to move towards the termination of Superintendent Brennan Asplen through a 4-1 vote to authorize negotiations for Asplen’s resignation with severance.

When the board signaled its intention to break Asplen’s contract last week, negotiations between the School Board’s attorneys and the superintendent’s counsel picked up steam but were paused prior to Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Asplen’s removal draws similarities to the removal of superintendents recently seen in Broward and Brevard counties in that school boards comprised of newly-elected, conservative-leaning members quickly move to reestablish the leadership formation.

When given the opportunity to weigh in on the decision, school board members expressed sharp concern about the trajectory of academic achievement within the district.

“Steering away from politics and distrust requires engaging and working with all families regardless of how quiet or loud they are in sharing their experiences or needs. More importantly … the best practice for vetting all decisions and actions in vetting that they are controversy free is what makes a good public school,” said board member Karen Rose. “Our overall reading, science, and math achievements have not shown even minimal growth. That’s my focus area. Academic achievement. Lack of transparency with data in reading and monitoring progress is an issue for me.”

Rose further criticized that the school district was marketing itself as the second-highest achieving school district in the state is false, and should better reflect Sarasota Public Schools’ standing as the fifth-highest achieving district.

“It’s okay that we’re number five, but I want to own that we’re number five,” continued Rose. “I want the public to know what are our strengths and what are our weaknesses, and I don’t feel that the transparency has been there.”

A contingent of individuals called for Asplen to be fired over things like COVID mask policies, operating an equity committee in violation of Sunshine Law, and refusing to allow parents to walk their children to class, according to WUSF news.

WUSF further reports that Asplen’s contract calls for a minimum of $87,000 in severance if he is terminated without cause.

Asplen, who took on the role of superintendent in 2020 and received consecutive high marks in evaluations, shot back at his dissenters, questioning why he was put in a position to be removed from his post.

“One thing I do want to say, and I don’t know if people just forget, but if you go back for the last year and a half and you look at a lot of our workshops, a lot of your questions will be answered and you’re going to remember what we’ve talked about,” said Asplen. “We’ve been very transparent, we’ve had our principals come in, we’ve had teachers come in, we’ve had students. We have all kinds of data … We provide data constantly.”

Many of the public speakers spoke in support of Asplen and levied criticism on the school board for not having a concrete replacement plan in place.

While the vote to separate from Asplen passed, it is not yet known who his successor will be or when he will officially step down from his role.


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