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Sunday, Nov 23, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Process in question after same child walks off campus

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Published:   |   Updated: February 16, 2014 at 02:59 PM

It’s only been a couple of weeks now since special education teacher Ingrid Peavy lost her job in a 4-3 vote by the Hillsborough County School Board.

The termination came after a special needs child walked off a middle school campus in October of 2012. Following a lengthy investigation Peavy took the fall. Fortunately, the child made it safely to his home several miles away.

Now, apparently that very same child walked off the campus of another school, this time getting to a convenience store and home safely.

I don’t know all the details. As you can imagine, there is a star chamber investigation going on.

As incredible as this sounds, it brings into question a number of things, starting with the processes the schools have for protecting our children. Generally these processes, while a good idea, sometimes ignore the common sense factor, but I’m only speculating. It also goes back to what happened to Ingrid Peavy and makes you wonder if she was the victim or even the fall guy for a process that is at fault.

“All I can do is shake my head’’ says school board member Susan Valdes, who was among those who did not vote to terminate Peavy. “I’ve been working on our processes for 10 years now and I still don’t always understand what we are trying to accomplish.’’ “I’ve sent a memo to the superintendent (Mary Ellen Elia) asking for an explanation of what happened by Tuesday’’ she said.

To be fair, again I don’t know the details but I do know there are questions to be asked, this time as much about the system as the teachers.

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I didn’t like the message, but at least it demonstrated things have all changed since my days in the Air Force. The military has a language all its own, but airmen out at MacDill didn’t need any translating last week when they got the message. About 880 airmen were told they were part of a “non-voluntary force management program.’’

We have those things around here too, but nobody elver puts it quite that nicely.

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Did you see where California is considering a bill to put warning labels on all bottles of soda pop. I can think of any number of things coming out of California these days that deserve warning labels from politicians to movie stars.

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If you are among those suspicious of polls, you must have enjoyed the story in Mother Trib over the weekend that said Alex Sink was leading David Jolly in the race for the District 13 Congressional seat in two out of three polls. What made the polls even more suspect was one that had Sink up 46 to 37 percent, while another said Jolly was up 46-44 percent.

Unfortunately the winner is likely going to be the one with enough money left to bombard the airwaves in the final days of the campaign with the nastiest ads. Right now, that one is a toss up.

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