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Sarasota County School Board to allow superintendent to negotiate separation

This comes after Asplen announced on Monday that he would agree to step away from the school district.

SARASOTA, Fla. — After a heated special meeting on Tuesday, Sarasota County Schools superintendent Brennan Asplen's future looks foggy after the School Board decided to not vote on whether or not to terminate him Tuesday night during a special meeting.

The school board instead made a motion to put the ball in Asplen's court in order to allow him to negotiate a separation from the district. This comes after Asplen announced on Monday that he would agree to step away from the school district following negotiations with the Sarasota School Board to resign. 

If Asplen does not decide to negotiate, then the decision of his termination will go to a vote. 

Many school workers and parents expressed their support for Asplen at the meeting, calling his possible termination "politically motivated."

Board members said the decision to negotiate a separation from Asplen to the district comes after reports of low test scores to the way he handled new state laws and transparency. 

The newly elected school board is made up of four Republicans and one Democrat. The board chair for Sarasota County Schools said the move isn’t political and that it’s hard to imagine resolving relationships with Asplen. 

"One of the biggest thing was trust, faith and communication and we were lacking that put together," Bridget Ziegler said. "[This] makes it very hard for any board to move forward and that just the actual professionalism and being able to work together."

In a statement, Asplen also said that there is no longer an effective relationship between himself and the school board.

"I seek not to be a distraction from the passionately steadfast commitment of our SCS teachers, administrators, employees, and the greater parent/student community," Asplen said in a statement Monday. "I want the Sarasota County School District to heal; I desire for our community to be at peace."

Under his contract, a termination without cause would entitle the school district to pay Asplen up to $90,000.

The school board has not yet said who would replace Asplen's position, even in an interim capacity. For the time being, he remains the superintendent of the school district. 

Asplen was hired in July 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when he was expected to lead the district through the uncertainty of the health crisis and also heal morale after a sexual harassment scandal led to the previous superintendent's departure.

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