SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — For over a month, 8 On Your Side has been hearing from teachers and parents across Sarasota who want superintendent Dr. Brennan Asplen to keep his job.
Last month, the Sarasota County School Board—which flipped from liberal to conservative following November’s elections—held a special meeting to discuss terminating Asplen’s contract a few years early.
Some board members criticized Asplen’s leadership abilities during the COVID-19 pandemic and blamed him for the district’s performance in testing.
The special meeting was met with criticism from parents and teachers who say the board, which is supposed to be non-partisan, is putting politics over education. Dr. Asplen has received high marks on his performance evaluations and members of the local union say he is well-liked among staff.
“I would summarize the reaction by tremendous surprise and frustration and a lot of people were upset,” said Sarasota Classified Teachers Association President Rex Ingerick. “People are constantly emailing me and asking ‘where did this come from?’, ‘what has Dr. Asplen done?’ They are just kind of befuddled as to why this action is taking place.”
“They are supposed to be there to just look at what is best for education for all kids, and we are just looking at political agendas. The focus is not on what our education for our students is. They are picking and choosing different topics that Dr. Asplen was not responsible for. Our prior school board made those decisions,” Ingerick added.
The board ultimately decided to let Asplen resign and negotiate his severance package.
On Tuesday, school board members voted 4-1 to approve the separation agreement with Asplen.
School members will now discuss the appointment of an interim superintendent.