Communication Builds Our Community

Charter School Board Fires Superintendent Rodolfich During Hearing Today

Anonymous Accusations Led to Investigation by Attorney

The Lake Wales Charter School board summarily dismissed School Superintendent Dr. Wayne V. Rodolfich during a meeting this afternoon after hearing a report from the Tampa law firm of Barbas Cremer regarding their investigation into anonymous grievances which were filed against Rodolfich earlier this year.

News file photo

Dr. Wayne V. Rodolfich has led the seven-school charter district since July 2022 after a year-long hunt ended in his hiring in March of that year. He came to Lake Wales after leading a school system at Pascagoula, in coastal Mississippi, where he earned honors as the Superintendent of the Year.

Dr. Rodolfich has led the seven-school charter district since July 2022 after a year-long hunt ended in his hiring in March of that year. He came to Lake Wales after leading a school system at Pascagoula, in coastal Mississippi, where he earned honors as the Superintendent of the Year. He was hired after a divisive effort to find a replacement for former Superintendent Jesse Jackson, who resigned in February of 2021.

The law firm of Barbas Cremer specializes in employment and business law and was retained by the board in April. The board made that decision after the charter school's human resources officer, LaQuanda Burroughs, reported to them that three different grievances had been filed by one or more employees during a special meeting on March 28.

Dr. Rodolfich expressed surprise during that meeting, saying that it was the first time he had heard anything about the matter. While the investigation proceeded Dr. Rodolfich has voluntarily stayed away from the school system offices on Central Avenue in Lake Wales but remained working from home.

Over the last two days an attorney representing the Barbas Cremer firm has met individually with each member of the board in the presence of the board's general counsel, giving them an opportunity to ask questions regarding their investigation into the complaints. By the start of the meeting on Friday afternoon it was apparent that many members had made up their minds about the matter.

A suggestion by the board's attorney, Robin Gibson, that they enter into an agreement with Dr. Rodolfich's lawyer was ignored in favor of an immediate firing after a motion by Tonya Stewart.

Only one of the board, Brian Marbut, expressed hesitation, saying he had just learned of the matter at noon and needed more time to consider his vote, ultimately voting against the motion to terminate. The board gave no indication whether the allegations or investigation results would be made public. Lake Wales News has reached out to Dr. Rodolfich and members of the Charter School board for comment, and will update this story as details emerge.

Dr. Rodolfich came to Lake Wales from Pascagoula, MS, where he led the Pascagoula-Gautier School District since 2005. Dr. Rodolfich's educational background includes an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern Mississippi. He was named Mississippi's "Superintendent of the Year" in 2020.

Dr. Rodolfich was chosen after a nationwide search that drew 25 applicants. Andy Oguntola, then chair of the Board of Trustees, helped to craft the process to find a replacement in 2022, but subsequently stepped down to become a candidate himself. In September of that year some trustees attempted to limit their search to only local candidates but that was met with a community uproar demanding a nationwide search.

"I love the children, teachers, and people of this community. I am so fortunate to have been a part of their lives for the last two years," Dr. Rodolfich said in a statement to Lake Wales News. "My family and I have proudly devoted our lives to this community."

Dr. Rodolfich, who took his "Read 20" campaign to area shopping centers on weekends, added a last exhortation. "Parents, please read with your children 20 minutes every day," he said.

Today's meeting took place in the auditorium of Lake Wales High School, one of seven schools in the system governed by the board. The charter school system consists of Lake Wales High School, Bok Academy North and South middle schools, and four area elementary schools.

 
 

Reader Comments(2)

Editir2 writes:

Thank you for your comment. We have removed the reference to 'signature' to clarify that he was not the origin of the term or effort despite his efforts to promote the Read 20 program locally.

MelvinP writes:

Please stop referring to Read20 as “his signature campaign.” It isn’t his anything. Read20 was begun almost 20 years ago in Tennessee and has since been copied nationally. The NFL even modified their Play60 campaign to Play60,Read20 in many of its locations. And the concept of children excelling in school if they are read to at an early age isn’t novel or groundbreaking. Who in education doesn’t know this? Why is anyone near that district impressed that the superintendent encouraged reading? https://www.tn.gov/former-firstlady-haslam/read20/about-read20.html https://authortimgreen.com/play60read20/

 
 
 
Rendered 06/14/2024 07:27