You can see for yourself the email that we wrote Joe Henderson stating:
Why don't you ask the Superintendent point-blank if she knew about the death of Bella Herrera at the time that it occurred and why didn’t she tell the board and the public?
You can see Joe Henderson’s reply- which included the link to his article- stating:
I did that, Scott, right after the news about Bella came to light.
You can read Joe Henderson’s article showing what MaryEllen Elia said:
But Superintendent MaryEllen Elia didn't make the news public. She relied on a sheriff's office investigation that she said found no criminal wrongdoing, and appeared to let it go at that. During an interview last week, I asked why she didn't release the news. She fell back on the sheriff's report.
You can then read MaryEllen Elia’s deposition that says (page 17):
Q: Now, when did you first become aware of the incident involving IH (Isabella Herrera)?
A (MaryEllen Elia): When your law firm announced that there was a lawsuit against the school district on the side of our building. (November 1, 2012)
You can read our articles, especially “Where were the Sheriff, Superintendent and Candy Olson when Isabella Herrera died”
You can decide for yourself if Elia is lying.
You can think about it and realize that MaryEllen Elia’s failure to act after the first December 15, 2011 near fatal school bus tragedy arguably led to the death of student Isabella Herrera. And that her subsequent coverup of the school bus based death of student Isabella Herrera for 9 months arguably led to the death of student Jenny Caballero. Arguably 2 children died due to Elia's failure to act.
We included the email from Joe Henderson so that you can see the context shows that Joe Henderson is talking specifically about Superintendent Elia and why SHE never made the news public:
SHE relied on a sheriff's office investigation that SHE said found no criminal wrongdoing, and appeared to let it go at that. Superintendent MARYELLEN ELIA didn't make the news public.
You can decide for yourself if Elia is lying. But the other BIG problem with this is that her excuse for not doing anything (like updating antiquated polices and training) after the Herrera tragedy is that she said the sheriff’s office investigation found no criminal wrongdoing. But that excuse doesn’t wash either because 6 weeks prior to the Herrera tragedy another student was forgotten on a bus most of the day and that aide was charged with child neglect AND that incident was reported by Elia’s own communication department and widely publicized in the news.
So why didn't she fix policies and procedures then and conceivably prevent the death of 2 children? Isn't that also her job to keep procedures current and staff trained BEFORE tragedies occur?
Think about it: Had Elia acted after the December 15, 2011 incident then Isabella Herrera and Jenny Caballero probably would not have died. But she just sat there and did nothing for 10 months until they were forced to act by the Public's revelation of the Herrera cover-up and lawsuit. Elia is either incompetent or corrupt or both. Either way she should be fired just like all the employees she has fired.
If any low ranking staff did this they would be fired. Elia is still employed. Joyce Weiland (ESE) is still employed. School District attorney Thomas Gonzalez is still employed. Cathy Valdes (transportation) was promoted! Even John Franklin (transportation) had to resign on his own because the Board would not have him fired. Seems like the school board itself should resign for coddling these people and their failure to act.
Elia has the board fire employees all the time for her convenient interpretations of policies that are written such that they allow this abuse. In fact, beginning on the same day as the 9 month coverup of the death of Isabella Herrera she began firing George Olmo, a maintenance worker, for her contrived interpretation of “campaigning”. That is- while the Isabella Herrera tragedy was being ignored during campaign year 2012, she was busy firing an employee for an alleged minor campaign charge. This is crooked.
Which is worse: a campaign violation or children dying?
Meanwhile she allows the Tampa Bay Times to campaign on school campuses to maintain her Board voting block as she did in 2012.
This is crooked. Hillsborough County should be rioting against this flagrant abuse of power. If the school board does not fire Elia they should all be recalled and thrown out of office.