Hernando school board questioned over superintendent's firing

- The Hernando County School Board voted Tuesday to terminate the contract of Superintendent Lori Romano, who appeared to be left wondering exactly why she lost her job.

Less than 24 hours after their decision, members of the school board were mostly declining to comment about their decision, citing a potential lawsuit filed by Romano.

"It was a vote of no confidence taken. It passed the school board three-two and later at the school board meeting, Dr. Romano's contract was terminated as of June 30," said board Chairman Mark Johnson, who wouldn't expand on their official reasons for Romano's termination. "I've been told by our counsel at this point not to make any comment as there possibly will be litigation coming out of this."

After the board voted to fire Romano for cause, the superintendent sounded frustrated that the board wouldn't give her an official reason for the termination.

"You're terminating me publicly and you're not able to tell me what the cause is?" she asked.

The board's attorney said she would receive a termination letter with an explanation. The letter will be presented to the board at its meeting on June 26.

A day before she was fired, the board received a letter from Romano's attorney, claiming it was in breach of contract for not conducting proper performance reviews.

In the letter, Romano's lawyer also accused some members of trying to "publicly humiliate and... injure the reputation of the superintendent."

Based on what board member Linda Prescott said at the meeting, the letter appears to be one possible reason for Romano's firing.

"Basically the letter said, 'This is a letter saying that I am going to institute legal action,' which I interpreted to be suing the district," Prescott said. "I guess I just could not accept that as the way to solve a problem."

Another board member cited Romano's decision to fire every teacher at Moton Elementary School after the state classified it as an underachieving school for two years. It's not yet clear whether Moton scored passing grades for the last school year.

A spokesperson for the school district said Romano was unavailable for comment Wednesday. She still has supporters on the school board, who referred FOX 13 back to their comments during the meeting.

"I don't see any justification for getting somebody that's accomplished the things she has done, and say, 'We don't need you anymore,'" said Gus Guadagnino, who believes Romano has been successful in improving graduation rates, industrial certifications, and overall school grades.

It's unclear how the district plans to conduct its search for a new superintendent or when it will begin.

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