Sarasota County School Board delays vote on Hillsdale-tied consulting firm contract

Herald-Tribune | By Steven Walker | April 4, 2023

The Sarasota School Board will not vote Tuesday on two proposed contracts with Vermilion Education, a consulting firm whose founder worked at the conservative Hillsdale College, a district spokesperson confirmed before the meeting.

The vote was rescheduled for the next board meeting on April 18, and the reasoning behind delaying the vote was not immediately clear before the meeting started. In the workshop immediately before the scheduled board meeting, there was a Zoom presentation from Jordan Adams, Vermilion’s founder, which was not listed on the board’s workshop agenda.

“Vermilion Education Brief” was only listed under “Member Comments” at the end.

Ahead of the meeting, groups including the League of Women Voters and Support our Schools rallied about 100 people outside of the board chambers against the proposed contracts.

Last week, the district posted for consideration two draft contracts with Vermilion Education, one for consulting services to the board and another for a “District Improvement Study” that would include a broad review of the district. Under the consulting contract, Vermilion would examine proposed policies, programs, curriculum, and sit in on external candidate interviews for district administrative, support and classroom positions.

A protester waves a sign at traffic on U.S. 41 at the Sarasota County School Board offices during a protest Tuesday of the proposal to hire Vermillion Education, led by Support Our Schools. Mike Lang, Mike Lang

Vermilion was founded by Adams, who worked as a civic education specialist at Hillsdale College and is named in the contract. Adams was previously consulted by the Florida Department of Education to review textbooks and worked with Hillsdale College to expand its charter school network with the controversial Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum.

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