TAMPA — A deadlocked school board rejected an effort late Tuesday to force high-level employees of the Hillsborough district to file financial disclosure forms similar to those required of elected officials.
Board chairwoman April Griffin brought the unexpected motion during a period at the end of the regular board meeting reserved for member comments. Without offering specifics, Griffin stated, “We need to work very, very hard right now in restoring public confidence in this district and this board.”
Though some school board members called for postponement of the issue for further research and discussion, and school board attorney Tom Gonzalez warned that such a requirement could violate constitutional privacy rights, Griffin pushed forward in calling for a vote.
The issue failed on a 3-3 tie, with members Doretha Edgecomb, Stacy White and Carol Kurdell voting no. Members Griffin, Cindy Stuart and Susan Valdes supported the measure, with memer Candy Olson absent.
Griffin said high-level decisionmakers known as the superintendent's cabinet have tremendous power in district policy. “By the time those decisions are made, they come to us, we have had nothing to do with it,” Griffin said. “All of the conversations have been had, all of the decisions have been made, prior to it coming to us ... There should be nothing for anyone to hide.”
The dissenters said Griffin's move may have had merit, but was too important to come up in what Edgecomb called “kind of out of left field.”
“This is really about ethics and integrity,” Edgecomb said. “I think something this important, and the way your motion is framed really demands some good discussion and good openness about why we're doing this. And I can't get that at this time.”