The Censure of Jay Wheeler

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Apr 6, 2012, 9:28:36 PM4/6/12
to gg
The school board voted to censure Jay Wheeler during their meeting this
week. This strikes me as quite ironic considering what Cindy Hartig and Tom
Long did during the recent superintendent selection process (see "Subtle
Little Lies", ).

If there is any hope for the future of Osceola County schools, please
consider writing to Michael Sevi in Governor Scott's office yourself (see
below). It is my understanding that Mr. Sevi handles issues like this for
the governor.

We need more school board members like Jay, not fewer.

From: George Schiro
Sent: Friday, April 06, 2012 7:58 PM
Subject: The Censure of Jay Wheeler

Michael Sevi
Executive Office of the Governor
The Capitol
Room 209
Tallahassee FL 32399

RE: The Censure of Jay Wheeler
Osceola School Board Member, District 1

Mr. Sevi,

My name is George Schiro. I have lived in Florida since
1969 and Central Florida since 2004. My family
currently lives in Osceola County.

My wife and I learned late in the campaign cycle of the
previous election that Tom Long was running for a seat
on the Osceola School Board in our area (district 5).
He ran predominantly on a platform of transparency and
accountability. This caught our attention. So we
changed our minds at the last minute and voted for Mr.
Long. Mr. Long was elected for district 5 to serve on
the school board together with Jay Wheeler who was
first elected in 2002 for district 1.

I know that Mr. Long has been a vocal critic of Jay
Wheeler. Mr. Wheeler has also been similarly vocal in
his recriminations of Mr. Long.

I have met both of these gentlemen, but only in the
context of school matters. I had never met either one
of these folks until I started taking a personal
interest in Osceola school issues on behalf of my three

Prior to meeting Mr. Wheeler, I only knew about him
from what I read in the papers. On one occasion I
distinctly recall telling my wife "this guys thinks
like me" regarding the do-nothing Osceola County
Superintendent (at that time), Blaine Muse. So I wrote
a letter-to-the-editor letting everyone know what I
thought after Mr. Muse was replaced by Michael Grego.
Here's the letter from 2009:

Voice Makes Difference

While I think that Mr. Wheeler and Dr. Grego helped to
demonstrably improve Osceola County Schools, I also
believe that mistakes were made along the way. One
mistake was written about prominently in the first of
two "As I See It" columns for the Osceola Gazette:

The 'best' for our children?

As you can see, I praised Mr. Wheeler in 2009. Then I
criticized him (and Dr. Grego) in 2011.

Shortly after the publication of the above article I
was appointed by Tom Long to participate in the
selection of a new superintendent to replace Dr. Grego.
I accepted this civic responsibility. But I was very
disappointed by the irregularities I witnessed during
the superintendent selection process. Sadly, Mr. Long
and I disagreed on this point, which I have extensively
written about here (still incomplete):

Harmony, Florida Commons

So what's the point of all this?

I have been a personal witness to the behavior of two
very different people who are supposed to be
representing me and my family on the Osceola School
Board. I have had agreements and disagreements on the
issues with both of these individuals.

My wife and I are only allowed to vote for one of these
two men, Mr. Long. This is so because Mr. Wheeler
represents another voting district.

Yet I can honestly say that Mr. Wheeler, while far from
perfect, has represented my family on the Osceola
School Board with more honor, integrity and due
diligence than I have personally witnessed of Mr. Long.
While Mr. Long shows great concern for whatever Mr.
Wheeler does in public, I have serious concerns about
what Mr. Long has done in secret when he thought no one
was looking, contrary to his public advocacy for
transparency and accountability.

While I have criticized Mr. Wheeler in public, he has
never hesitated to return my phone calls or respond to
my emails. This has been particularly true after
contacting him with school matters about my sons. He
also keeps his constituents (and anyone else
interested) regularly informed about the internal
goings-on of the school district.

On the other hand, after being critical of Mr. Long in
public, he now blocks my emails, including those
pertaining to the well-being of my sons in Osceola
County schools. The email blocking occurred right after
I asked Mr. Long several straight forward questions
about the superintendent selection process which he
refused to answer in public (see "Request for Tom Long
- 2011-05-17", ). Mr. Long
also makes little effort to keep his constituency
informed even after being asked to do so (see "Request
for Tom Long - 2011-02-27",

If my wife and I could take back our votes for Tom
Long, we would. If we could vote for Mr. Wheeler, we

No one is perfect Mr. Sevi. I know that Mr. Wheeler has
made mistakes. But I am also personally aware of more
significant mistakes made by other members of the same
school board.

In my humble opinion, Osceola County currently has a
dysfunctional school board and Jay Wheeler is the only
member who currently represents those of us for whom
educational excellence is paramount.

I believe that the censure of Mr. Wheeler by the other
board members is politically motivated and just one
more example of why our votes matter.

But please don't take my word for it Mr. Sevi. The same
Dr. Grego who I praised and criticized in the past was
quickly appointed as interim Chancellor of Florida
Public Schools after leaving the Osceola School
District. The former Florida School Commissioner, Eric
J. Smith, said to the Palm Beach Post (see ):

Smith called Grego, who also worked as Hillsborough
assistant superintendent for many years, "one of
the strongest academic educators in the state."

Dr. Grego knows Jay Wheeler Mr. Sevi. He also knows the
current Osceola School Board all too well. Please talk
to him.

I hope that you will seriously consider all sides of
this issue and let us retain at least one rational
voice on the Osceola School Board until the next

Thank you for your consideration.


George Schiro

Jay Wheeler

Apr 7, 2012, 2:12:56 PM4/7/12
Safe to say that Tom Long will probably remove Mr. Schiro from his Christmas
card list this year. JW
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