Commander Elia shows MacDill AFB who’s in charge

Hillsborough County Public Schools denied the charter application for a new charter school at MacDill Air Force Base saying that they can’t tell who is in charge, but the charter application was submitted by Charter Schools USA which already has 3 other charter schools in Hillsborough County having previously received charters from the very same Hillsborough County School Board as previously recommended by Superintendent Elia- but this time the school district and school board claim that they just can’t figure it out.

So how is it that the school district suddenly can’t figure out who is in charge when Charter Schools USA applies for their fourth charter in Hillsborough County?

Charter Schools USA is one of the largest Charter school organizations in the United States; do you think the school district and school board get many charter school applications that have this level of detail- 500 pages?

Charter Schools USA is based in Fort Lauderdale and already manages 42 schools in Florida, three of which are already in Hillsborough County. These Charter Schools USA facilities are first class. Check out their website.

It seems that the only meaningful difference is that this charter is on prime educational turf that serves our dedicated service personnel on MacDill Air Foce Base. This Charter was supported by MacDill AFB staff who have clearly considered both options- HCPS and Charter Schools USA- and have concluded that Charter Schools USA is the superior choice. But Superintendent Elia, the school board and the HCPS staff all pompously think they know better than our Air Force command what is better for them and their children.

What could the Air Force Base possibly know about organization? They are just protecting our country while the School District is valiantly protecting their own jobs.

It is pretty embarrassing when the second largest employer in the County, MacDill AFB, decides that the first largest employer in the County, Hillsborough County Public Schools is not doing a very good job. Perhaps MacDill AFB was responding to the scathing performance review that Elia recently received.

Perhaps MacDill AFB does not like leadership that has been described by her own board as unethical, cussing, yelling and bullying. Board Chair April Griffin stated “You have demonstrated a complete lack of professionalism with staff members and board members by cussing, yelling and bullying”. Board member Susan Valdes said “It is unethical for you to not have notified us of the death of one of our students in January 2012”

Perhaps they were concerned with the lack of qualifications and training revealed recently by multiple Student deaths. Perhaps they checked qualifications at other relevant departments like the Facilities department that includes Planning & Construction and Transportation and found them wanting. Anyone can check licenses at Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation at this link for those professions and businesses that are regulated by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

This includes licenses for architecture, engineering, construction Industry, etc. Things the AFB would need for building a new school. Cathy Valdes is the Chief of Facilities at the HCPS but a search for her name does not yield any licenses. Likewise Rory Salimbene is the General Manager of Planning and Construction but a search for his name does not yield any licenses. How can that be?

Perhaps MacDill AFB wants to avoid the bloated bureaucracy and the glacial pace down at the school district. Perhaps they don’t want to deal with an organization that, by its own admission, has decades old policies, lack of qualifications and training. Failures that arguably resulted in 2 ESE deaths

Elia warned ‘If any charter school gets consecutive 'F' grades, 'I'm in the position where I would close them.’

And yet if Elia had ever fully disclosed the circumstances of the death of Isabella Herrera she should have received 2 consecutive F’s for her own performance review. And what about Cathy Valdes' review from Superintendent Elia? Cathy Valdes almost certainly also knew of the death and also never supposedly disclosed it to the School board. She also should have received 2 consecutive F’s. These people routinely use this rationale to kill charters and fire people but when it comes to themselves they use a different grading system.

Perhaps Macdill AFB wants a high performance organization that compliments their own organization.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Katherine Steinfeldt January 08, 2014 at 06:32 AM
This article is decidedly biased and just someone's opinion. It is also not well written. I am surprised to find this in the Patch.
Scott Adams January 08, 2014 at 07:56 AM
Thank you for your comment. With respect to your comment that the article is not well written- when you claim something is decidedly biased it helps if you offer something to back up your empty claim. I would be happy to respond to any specific aspect of this article. Separate from that, Patch recognizes that blogs typically are opinion but just because something is reported as news by the Times or Tribune does not mean it is NOT decidedly biased, for example see my article about the Times' decidedly biased and overt campaign endorsements of school board members like Carol Kurdell at http://brandon.patch.com/groups/scott-adamss-blog/p/hillsborough-officials-walk-fine-line-on-campaigning
cheryl stanbro January 08, 2014 at 10:54 AM
I don't care if it was well written, it is one persons take on the subject. And I would agree with several points. All news is biased it's human nature. People look at things through their own eyes therefore their experiences. I went to DoD schools for the majority of my life. My first experience with public schools was in 1974 middle school and it was not a good experience. I was way above in learning and the text books were years behind (they still had Constantinople as the capital of Turkey....it had been changed to Ankara years before...I had just moved from there) and it was my very first experience with race issues. I went home the first day and never wanted to go back!


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