School district HR chief resigns after being slated for a demotion

The Palm Beach Post | By Andrew Marra | December 15, 2021

he human resources director for Palm Beach County’s public schools resigned this week after the school district’s superintendent moved to demote him to a middle school principal position.

Human Resources Chief Gonzalo La Cava said he submitted his resignation Tuesday, shortly after schools Superintendent Mike Burke signaled his intention to transfer him to the principal position at Tradewinds Middle School in Greenacres.

His last day will be Jan. 31, he said.

La Cava, who has served in the role since 2016, drew the ire of the teachers union and some school board members last year in the run-up to the reopening of school campuses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teachers union calls for ouster over back to school process

The teachers union president went so far as to call for La Cava’s ouster at the time, blaming him for the district’s “shameful” failure to set up a process for employees with health concerns to seek permission to work remotely.

The failure to set up a timely process played a large role in weeks of tumult as schools reopened. Hundreds of teachers who were denied their last-minute requests to work from home used sick days to stay home instead, prompting a sudden shortage of teachers and empty classrooms across the district.

Then-schools Superintendent Donald Fennoy declined to remove La Cava from his position. But Burke, who took office in July, gave notice this week of his intent to transfer him, adding the move to the agenda of Wednesday’s school board meeting.

In a statement, La Cava said he was proud of his track record leading the district’s human resources department, which oversees hiring, training and certification issues.

He pointed out that his department this year won a state award for its management excellence and that his teacher-recruitment efforts were highlighted last year by Education Week, a national education publication.

“I believe the district is headed in the right direction and it’s been an honor to serve The School District of Palm Beach and to call it my home,” he said. “In pursuit of continued personal growth, it’s time to pursue a new opportunity.”

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