Hostile school boards oust 2 superintendents while FBI probes another

Sudden political shifts on Sarasota and Bradenton county school boards led to leaders' departures.

A pair of Florida superintendents are stepping down after confrontations with hostile school boards while a district leader in Texas is being investigated by the FBI.

Superintendent Brennan Asplen is now negotiating a severance from Sarasota County Schools after members of the newly sworn-in school board announced their intention to fire him after just over two years on the job in southwest Florida. The Sarasota County board is now chaired by Bridget Ziegler, who co-founded the conservative activist group Moms for Liberty. Ziegler—who is no longer a part of Moms for Liberty—and three other conservative members now dominate the board by a 4-1 margin.

They have not given a clear resignation for forcing Asplen’s departure even though he was consistently deemed “highly effective” on performance reviews.

Also in late November, Mark Mullins agreed to begin negotiations to leave his post as superintendent of Brevard Public Schools on Florida’s east coast after his strength as a leader was called into question by a newly installed board, according to local reports. At the same meeting, the board also ordered Mullins to strictly enforce a rule that requires students to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their biological sex at birth, Florida Today reported.

More from DA: Sudden change—2 superintendents resign abruptly and 2 others are fired

And in North Texas, Superintendent Joshua Goen of rural Seagraves ISD was placed on leave after the district learned he is being investigated by the FBI, according to The interim superintendent told the website that Goen was suspended due to “the seriousness of the investigation.”

Here’s a look at some other recent—and less contentious—shifts in K-12 leadership:

  • Shahe Bagdasarian will replace Michael Riordan in June as superintendent of Oak Lawn Community High School District #229. Riordan has led the Chicago-area district for 15 years.
  • Jorge L. Arredondo stepped down as superintendent of Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD in Texas on Nov. 28, after holding the post for three years. Alejandro Elias was named interim superintendent.
  • Ponca City Public Schools Superintendent Shelley Arrott will retire from the Oklahoma district at the end of the year after nearly four decades in education. Arrott will become CEO of the city’s chamber of commerce.
  • Joe Koch, a deputy superintendent in the Waukesha School District, has been named superintendent of the Mukwonago Area School District starting in July 2023. Both districts are in Wisconsin.
  • Superintendent William E. Harner, who is also a 20-year Army veteran, will retire at the end of the 2022-23 school year after serving the Quakertown Community School District in Pennsylvania for a decade.
  • Superintendent James Craig will resign from Sibley-Ocheyedan School District in Iowa at the end of the 2022-23 academic year, reported.
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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