Breaking News
More () »

Sarasota schools face 2nd superintendent scandal in 3 years

Dr. Brennan Asplen was hired in 2020 to heal a district still reeling from the sexual harassment scandal involving former superintendent Todd Bowden.

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — Sarasota County Schools is in the midst of yet another disruption involving the superintendent in three years.

Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Brennan Asplen announced on Monday that he has agreed to step away from the school district. This comes after he was negotiating with the Sarasota School Board to resign from his position.

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.

In 2019, Todd Bowden was removed from his position as superintendent following an independent investigation that revealed Bowden's role in the handling of sexual harassment claims against former assistant superintendent Jeff Maultsby.

Maultsby was fired at the time but the school board still had to decide what should happen to Bowden. Ultimately, they reached a separation agreement and severance package with Bowden.

RELATED: Sarasota school board member on superintendent: 'Any true leader would resign'

Bridget Ziegler is the only remaining school board member who was also on the board during the 2019 scandal.

At the time Ziegler said, "If there was any integrity there, he would recognize that and he would resign allowing the board to focus on what that next path is to restore confidence and have better leadership at the district."

Asplen was supposed to be the answer to restoring that confidence.

"It was just a disaster, and I think all of us wanted a period of calm after that," said Barry Dubin, Executive Director with the Sarasota Classified Teachers Association.

Dubin said teachers were pleased with the job Asplen had done and found him to be fair and honest through the pandemic and, recently, Hurricane Ian.

"He had done a remarkably good job of healing the rift with the staff, there’s no question about that. That’s why the staff is so upset," Dubin said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect Bowden resigned and separated himself from the school district before he could be fired.

Before You Leave, Check This Out