Trio of top Manatee school jobs could be filled Monday

eearl@bradenton.comJuly 18, 2013 

MANATEE -- Several top school district positions are set to be filled Monday night if the Manatee County School Board approves the superintendent's recommendations.

The school board will consider Superintendent Rick Mills' recommendation of Wylen Herring-Cayasso as the new exceptional student education director, Robert Johnson as the new director of planning and performance management and Troy Pumphrey as the new investigator in the Office of Professional Standards.

The office of profession

al standards, which investigates employee misconduct, has been empty since January.

Following allegations of sexual misconduct against Manatee High football coach Rod Frazier, previous investigator Debra Horne left abruptly to become assistant principal of Prine Elementary. The state attorney's office is still investigating the case.

Mills is recommending Pumphrey, a former detective of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department and the senior investigator for the Florida High School Athletic Association, to be approved by the school board for the position.

Mills said the office of professional standards was left vacant while he decided if he wanted to hire an in-house investigator or outsource investigations. Mills said he went with in-house because it is better "for consistency, continuity and relationships."

Pumphrey's expertise in detective work and education makes him a well-balanced candidate, Mills noted.

"I value the necessity to have someone experienced in questioning and listening and combine it with someone who has experience in education," Mills said. "It would be the best blended skills we would be looking for."

Pumphrey has worked with school districts as well as investigating organized crime, public corruption and financial crime.

Pumphrey said he learned a great deal about working in the education system since moving to Florida in 2005 to become the investigator for the Florida High School Athletic Association in 2006.

"I had the great opportunity to be able to work for at least three superintendent of schools," Pumphrey said. "At the end of day, what is important for me is doing the best job I can collecting information and passing that information on. I have to take a puzzle that is scattered and be able to fit the pieces back together to be analyzed by others."

After retiring from the D.C. police department, Pumphrey started his education career in Florida before teaching criminal justice in Hillsborough County at Worton High School and Newsome High School. He also founded a CSI camp in Hillsborough County.

Pumphrey said he is excited about the Manatee position.

"Moving into a new career that is fresh with new ideas is a great opportunity," Pumphrey said. "I don't know the dynamics of the previous administration, but what I do know is I will do everything in my professional ability to serve the superintendent and community best I can."

In the past, the investigator for the office of professional standards reported to the legal department, but now Punphrey will report directly to Mills.

"Investigators tend to be autonomous from an organizational structure so they can operate and act independently, and the best way is for the office to report to me," Mills said.

If approved, Pumphrey's annual salary will be $75,759.

Mills also recommended Herring-Cayasso to take the place of recently Jodi O'Meara who recently resigned as director of Exceptional Student Education. Herring-Cayasso is now director of Exceptional Student Services in Kissimmee.

Mills recommended Robert Johnson, now director of administrative operations in Minneapolis Public Schools, to be director of planning and performance management.

If approved, Herring-Cayasso will be paid $96,992 annually and Johnson will be paid $84,438 annually.

In addition to approving new hires, the school board will also vote on proposed changes in job descriptions for some of the new positions. Don Hall, deputy superintendent of operations, said the district did not choose any applicants who applied for the chief information officer position.

Job description changes include accepting a combination of education, industry certification and job experience along with experience in information management, business administration and computer sciences or a related field.

"We found out that is more common for a CIO," Hall said.

The district is also now seeking someone with a minimum of eight years experience rather than three years.

"People were applying that had only been in a job for a year or two," Hall said. "We need someone who has done it longer. In some cases, candidates had none of the qualifications required."

Hall said more than 30 people applied for the position.

"We will see what comes out of this. Florida does not pay high compared to other states, and it is hard to find quality candidates," Hall said. "But the goal is to get the best possible person."

The district is also struggling to find a qualified executive director of human resources. The district is adding a minimum of five years of senior management in human resources experience on top of five years human resources experience sought before.

The district had a full day of interviews Wednesday for director of communications and family and community engagement. Hall said the district will take three final candidates to Mills this week for consideration.

Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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