Sarasota school board appoints temporary superintendent

Public concern pushed the Sarasota County School Board to a unanimous vote to part ways with now-former Superintendent Dr. Todd Bowden. 

"It appears our human resources and top leadership at all levels have failed children," said one woman at the school board meeting. 

A report that stated Dr. Bowden failed to swiftly address an employee's claims that she was sexually harassed by former Assistant Superintendent Jeff Maultsby did not help.

"We have a lot of healing that needs to be done with our community. Our community is upset with us and they’re watching us now," said school board member Eric Robinson. 

Before the vote, school board members held a workshop to discuss the plan to move on. 

"I'm in favor of moving forward and not moving backward," said board member Caroline Zucker. 

For now, they've appointed the board's Chief Financial Officer Mitsi Corcoran as acting superintendent as they search for an interim superintendent, which they plan to fill December 10. Then they will open up a search for a permanent leader. 

"We need to calm the waters. Before we go out for a superintendent we have a lot of healing to do, a lot of soul searching to do. I don’t think this should be fast track by any situation," said Robinson. 

The board hopes that leader can unite teachers, students, parents and the district. On top of sexual harassment claims inside the district office, they're dealing with the arrest of a teacher for inappropriately touching students. The board plans to come up with new procedures for dealing with situations like those. 

"I personally believe it’s like a 4-alarm fire. We can’t wait," said board member Bridget Ziegler. 

Absent from the meeting was Bowden. Only his picture remained on the chamber walls as a new chapter began in Sarasota County. 

"We need to stop all the negativity and some of it we dusted up ourselves," said board member Shirley Brown.