Seminole County School Board votes to revoke decision on next superintendent

Dr. Walt Griffin announced his retirement plans last year

The Seminole County School Board voted to revoke a decision on its next superintendent.

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – The Seminole County School Board voted to revoke a decision on its next superintendent.

On Feb. 9, the school board announced Chad Farnsworth would be the next superintendent of the district.

The announcement came after Farnsworth received three votes and SCPS attorney Serita D. Beamon received two votes during a school board meeting on Feb. 9.

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During the middle of a school board meeting on Tuesday, however, board member Dr. Tina Calderone said there was not enough discussion about who the next superintendent should be, adding that the vote on Feb. 9 lacked context.

“Our votes were perhaps cast without the kinda back and forth that leads to sound decisions,” Calderone said.

In a 3-2 vote Tuesday night, the board voted to revoke the decision on the next superintendent.

“We always say our district works because we are family,” Calderone said.

A special school board meeting will be held Monday, March 1, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., according to the district.

The vote to rescind was not on the agenda. School board member Kristine Kraus sent News 6 an email that said the vote was a surprise.

“Our next Superintendent needs to understand our core values, mission and paramount to the success of our District is recognizing that Equity for ALL students, will promote growth and opportunities for ALL,” Kraus said in an email. “The motion to rescind the vote was a surprise to us as we were not able to discuss amongst ourselves due to Sunshine laws. Dr. Calderone’s strong leadership gave her pause in her decision making, and she asked for a Board vote in order to dive a little deeper into the two candidates.”

Board member Amy Pennock wrote on Facebook and asked for the community’s input on the decision.

“There were many individuals that came to the meeting to speak to one side of the issue, however and because it was not noticed on the agenda, I am concerned that individuals with different perspectives were not given the same notice and opportunity to be heard,” she said in the Facebook post.

News 6 contacted Farnsworth and Beamon for comment on the board’s vote but did not receive a response. A school district spokesperson said they would not comment publicly until after the process plays out.

Current superintendent Dr. Walt Griffin, who’s worked in the district for 37 years, announced that he is going to retire at the end of the 2020-21 academic year.

“I’m retiring to enjoy my family. I’m not seeking a larger district or a different job. I will miss you, the wonderful people of this organization, more than anything,” Griffin said in November 2020.

Beamon has been the school district’s attorney since 2004.

The SCPS attorney said she supports the creation of customized education pathways for students.

Beamon said with her 16-plus years of experience working with SCPS, she has the knowledge to make sure the district provides excellence and equity for all students.

The school board confirmed Beamon submitted her resignation on Feb. 16 as the district’s attorney after she was not selected as the next superintendent. Beamon is expected to formally leave the role in April.

“During my time with the school system, I had the opportunity to provide counsel and guidance to all departments within the district and probably every school, on issues of importance to our students. I have learned the instructional strategies and operational responsibilities that have produced a high-quality education and meaningful diplomas for our students. I have loved it,” she wrote in her resignation letter. “Even though my time as a School Board employee will soon come to an end, please know that I will always wish the best for this wonderful district and the SCPS family.”

Serita Beamon. (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

In Farnsworth’s application, he said he wants Seminole County to become the top-performing district in Florida and to support a culture of high expectations for students, educators and leaders.

Farnsworth has been the assistant superintendent of the Lake County School District since 2017.

Prior to joining Lake County Schools, Farnsworth was the superintendent of Bradford County Schools.

Abby Sanchez is a school board member. On Feb. 9, she said it was important to her the new superintendent had teaching experience.

“I think it’s really important to have a leader that has been able to be in the classrooms, and having that experience of being a principal, assistant principal,” Sanchez said. “Not that the other candidate wasn’t amazing, I love her to pieces, and of course it’s hard not to let your emotions get involved.”