SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – The former Seminole County schools superintendent selection spoke to News 6 about the process and how he hopes the district can move forward following the fallout.
Chad Farnsworth, the current Lake County assistant superintendent, sent a strongly worded letter to the school board on Wednesday. In the letter he called the superintendent search process “terribly flawed.”
“Once it reached the point to where the board took control of the process, no I don’t feel like it was necessarily fair and balanced,” Farnsworth said.
On Feb. 9, the board voted for Farnsworth to be the next superintendent. The board then rescinded the vote two weeks later.
Farnsworth said he was surprised by the reversal.
“Just listening to the public comments there was significant outside pressure from a small pocket of one community, but also I think there had to be some inside influence that was ongoing also,” he said.
On March 1, the board selected Serita Beamon, who served as the SCPS school board attorney.
Farnsworth stayed silent during the process, but he said he is now compelled to speak after he claims the board misrepresented his past during Tuesday’s school board meeting.
In the letter, Farnsworth wrote, “Under the guise of “fact checking,” you directed staff to share details from old audit findings without proper context, all in a week attempt to cover what many in the community perceived to be corrupt, unethical, and potentially unlawful actions of the board.”
“I don’t understand those motives, so that to me I’m not sure where that comes from,” Farnsworth said. “Obviously someone has to authorize that kind of move and it was unwarranted and unfair and that’s what really inspired me to speak up.”
School board member Amy Pennock also posted a letter online. She wrote the board “created this mess, it is up to us to correct it.”
She also wrote the fallout from the superintendent search is bringing the community to “a new brink of racial divide.” She went on to write some members suggested that “a decision should be based, at least in part, on the basis of looks of the superintendent, and not the persons credentials.”
Pennock wrote she is calling on the state to investigate the school board’s actions and to make sure the Sunshine Act wasn’t violated.
Pennock denied an request for an interview on Thursday.
Farnsworth said at this point he is not considering any legal action, adding he hopes what happened will be looked into.
“I am happy that perhaps some people will look into the things that have gone on because it’s not a trend that needs to be spread outside of Seminole County,” he said.
When asked if he would like an apology from the school board, Farnsworth said he does not need a “canned apology.”
“I’ve never been one for forced apologies. I think the best way to show that they’re remorseful of how things went down is to like I said in my letter cease and desist from trying to damage my reputation in an unwarranted way,” Farnsworth said. “But really actions speak louder than words, like they say. I don’t need a canned apology. I just want to see them continue to do great.”
Farnsworth added he is hopeful the district can move forward.
“They’ve just got a little healing to do and they’ve got to put on display that they’re operating in a really highly ethical manner moving forward and they’ll be fine,” he said.
A school district spokesperson did not have any comment regarding the two letters.
Farnsworth said he is no longer interested in the superintendent position, but wishes the best for whomever gets the job. He said he is focusing on serving the children and families in Lake County.
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