The Sarasota County School Board can make Asplen go away – but not the troubling questions

Sarasota Herald-Tribune | By Sarasota Herald-Tribune Editorial Board | December 1, 2022

The majority of the Sarasota County School Board has gotten what it wanted with its 4-1 vote to begin negotiations for Brennan Asplen to resign as the district superintendent.

It has fulfilled its burning desire – or should that be “raging obsession”? – to force Asplen out of the county’s 46,000-student school system.

School Board’s move to fire Asplen shows contempt for openness, fairness and common sense

But the four School Board members responsible for this outrageous coup – Board Chair Bridget Ziegler, Karen Rose, Tim Enos and Robyn Marinelli – shouldn’t fool themselves into thinking that getting rid of Asplen will also remove the troubling questions surrounding their roles in the secretive manner of the superintendent’s exit.

It’s now time for the Furtive Four to start giving this community some real answers.

Questions abound

Here are just some of the questions that Ziegler, Rose, Enos and Marinelli must answer:

► What conversations took place among and between the four, in any form and under any circumstances, about Asplen’s future prior to the Nov. 22 meeting that saw Rose abruptly make a motion to schedule a future vote to terminate the superintendent’s contract?

► How was it possible for Enos and Marinelli to instantly support Rose’s motion only moments after officially joining the board – when, under normal circumstances, they should have had little ability to know so much about such an important matter prior to being sworn in?

► Are Ziegler, Rose, Marinelli and Enos aware that Florida has an open-government Sunshine Law that requires public officials to conduct the public’s business in a transparent manner that keeps citizens fully informed – in real-time fashion – about what’s being done in their name?

► Or did the four assume that, somehow, they were exempt from respecting the concept of open government – and had free rein to covertly band together to humiliate and oust a largely respected administrator who had received “highly effective” evaluations throughout his two years as Sarasota County’s superintendent?

► Were Marinelli and Enos truly open and forthright with citizens when, as successful School Board candidates earlier this year, they gave little indication they were highly dissatisfied with Asplen’s performance as superintendent – only to later seek his termination in one of their first acts as actual board members?

These questions and many others are not about to disappear, and the four School Board members responsible for causing them to be raised can’t escape their obligation to provide genuine answers.

We’re waiting.

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