At a meeting this week in Key West, Monroe County School Board Chairman Andy Griffiths said the five members’ evaluations of Superintendent Mark Porter’s job performance in 2015 will be aired out at the next meeting Oct. 25, set for 5 p.m. at Coral Shores High School in Tavernier.
It’s about time, said board member Ed Davidson, who accused Porter of deliberately concealing his 2015 review, which was ready for a public review June 20.
“This prevented it, of course, from being cited at any candidate forum and discussed during the primary election process,” Davidson wrote in a Monday email blast.
Porter denied intentionally delaying the board’s evaluation discussion and said he sent the results to two prospective employers, the school districts in St. Johns and Sarasota, where he is a finalist in each’s superintendent search.
“There has been no effort to suppress the evaluations,” Porter said before Tuesday’s meeting. “I don’t exclusively set the board agenda. It just didn’t get back on the agenda.”
The Keynoter obtained the evaluations from all five board members Aug. 10 upon request and referred to the results in a subsequent story. But Davidson says the evaluations, in which he gave Porter the poorest marks, have been purposely kept out of the “sunshine,” referring to Florida’s broad public records law.
The Oct. 25 meeting will mark the last time Davidson, the self-described School District watchdog, will sit at the five-person table. He was ousted from the District 3 seat in the Aug. 30 primary by Mindy Conn, a former attorney turned Sugarloaf Key parent and activist.
Davidson demanded the board take up the matter, citing a Florida Attorney General’s Office opinion requiring a public discussion of such evaluations in order for them to become official. On Monday, he asked for it to be added to Tuesday’s meeting but Griffiths declined, saying it wasn’t an emergency item.
Griffiths also said at each meeting, board members have the chance to raise any issue they want placed on an upcoming agenda. He said Davidson waited to the day before Tuesday’s meeting without allowing for proper public notice. On Tuesday, Davidson brought up the issue during the board comment period.
Also Tuesday, the board postponed voting on a proposed 15-year lease with the Key West Montessori Charter School, a public school housed in district property on United Street.
The charter school’s previous lease expired in 2014 and since then it has been renting the space by the month.
Several parents and supporters cheered after Brian Bennett spoke on behalf of about 20 families, saying the school needs the lease to move forward and apply for state capital funds that the district alone cannot try for.
“We need to rebuild the rotten building, the kids are crammed in there,” said Owen Trepanier of Key West, who said his 9-year-old daughter once hated going to school until she moved to Montessori. Now, she loves school and is thriving under the Montessori teaching method, he said.
But students there eat lunch outside because the school lacks a lunch room, Bennett said.
“It’s imperative the School District works with the Montessori Charter School to reach an agreement,” Bennett said. “This has been going on for a long time.”
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen