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Sarasota School Board sets meeting to consider firing superintendent

Meeting to consider action against Brennan Asplen originally set for early December now is planned on Tuesday, Nov 29.


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The Sarasota County School Board, with its new members sworn in less than two hours earlier, on Tuesday scheduled a special meeting for early December to consider firing Superintendent Brennan Asplen.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, though not yet officially posted on the school board's calendar. Tom Edwards voted against the December special meeting in a 4-1 majority.

Asplen, highly rated by the previous board in his annual evaluation weeks ago and in 2021, sat silently and sipped water on the dais at Venice High throughout the discussion and scheduling of the meeting that could lead to his firing.

Board member Karen Rose made the suggestion to set the meeting to consider Asplen’s contract, which drew light applause from members of the public in the auditorium. New board member Tim Enos seconded the proposal.

Originally seeking to set the meeting on Nov. 29, Rose urged the board to convene “as soon as possible and look at any board business any member may want to add to that special meeting.’’ 

When questioned by new board Chair Bridget Ziegler on what might be considered on that date, Rose responded, “I am asking for an agenda item to recommend termination of the superintendent's contract.’’

Earlier in the day, newcomers Enos and Robyn Marinelli were sworn in to fill seats left vacant by departing members Shirley Brown and Jane Goodwin, and Ziegler was chosen chair. The three won contentious elections in August, defeating a trio of Democratic-Party supported candidates. Although non-partisan, Ziegler, Enos and Marinelli drew backing of not only the local Republican Party but also that of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who campaigned and supported like-minded school board candidates statewide. 

As Asplen passed the gavel to Ziegler as chair, she briefly spoke about the year ahead.

“I think different viewpoints are how you create progress, as long as there’s mutual respect upon one another,’’ Ziegler said.

Asplen started with the school district in 2020, coming to Sarasota from a post as a deputy superintendent with the St. Johns County School District. He replaced interim Superintendent Mitsi Corcoran, who took over for Todd Bowden, who was fired in 2019 over his handling of a sexual harassment case.

 

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Eric Garwood

Eric Garwood is the managing editor of the Longboat Observer and the Sarasota Observer. Since graduating from University of South Florida in 1984, he's been a reporter and editor at newspapers in Florida and North Carolina.