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Clean up messes before beginning a search

Interim Superintendent Mitsi Corcoran needs financial support to clean the school district's lawsuits.

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Good choice: the appointment of Mitsi Corcoran, chief financial officer of the Sarasota County School District, as the district’s interim superintendent.

This came, you recall, in the wake of the resignation of Superintendent Todd Bowden. The board appointed Corcoran as interim while it worked toward an expected hiring this week of Bill Vogel, former superintendent of the Seminole County School District.

But Vogel withdrew.

That thrust the board into a difficult position. It would begin a national search for a new superintendent while the district is in the throes of numerous, damaging lawsuits — at least two sexual harassment lawsuits and the suit over the district’s handling of a special needs student, plus prickly negotiations with the teachers union.

Let’s add to that two more challenges:

  • The tenuous morale throughout the district employees. Many of the teachers might be glad Bowden is gone, but it takes a lot to wipe away the cynicism that arose during Bowden’s three years in the job and rebuild confidence.
  • The discord among the board members and the uncertainty of how the makeup of the board will look after the November 2020 elections.

If you were looking to become a schools superintendent, why would you want to walk into all of that?

Although some people thrive on turnaround situations, you can bet there are few top-flight candidates who want to sign up for at least two years of misery and clean-up duty.

When business owners decide to sell their companies, to attract top dollar, they typically spend a year or two or three managing and massaging their company to be in the best shape possible, to make it an attractive buy for a qualified suitor.

In that vein, the Sarasota County School Board members should make every effort they can to help Corcoran clean up the myriad messes and lawsuits before they launch a new search for a superintendent.

Give Corcoran the help she needs in the finance department, so she can focus on restoring the district as one of Florida’s all-stars and making it attractive for a leader who can take it to the next level.



Matt Walsh

Matt Walsh is the CEO and founder of Observer Media Group.

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