Sparks Fly At Superintendent Debate

Jul 21, 2016

Things got a little heated during a superintendent debate on Thursday. Former School Board Member Patricia Sunday aimed barbs at former Leon High School Principal Rocky Hanna over a relationship he had more than 10 years ago.

“I suggest you don’t vote for Rocky Hanna," Sunday said, "because at this point he is costing this school system $30,000 a year for a school teacher salary that went from 40,000 something to 70,000 something. Boy I wish I had that job, not in the way she got it.”

At issue: a consensual relationship Hanna had with a teacher in the 2005-2006 school year. She filed an affidavit on the relationship in 2014. Four months after filing the affidavit, she received a promotion, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

Hanna defended himself at the debate:

“Eleven years ago, as a single male I went on several dates with a single female," he said. "Ten years later, she feels the need to document her account of what happened over a decade ago. An investigation is initiated, I’m immediately cleared of any wrongdoing ... The investigator even questioned her motivation for doing this a decade later. Three months after that, she is promoted to assistant principal and given a $30,000 raise.”

He told Sunday to do some research before questioning his character.

“So Ms. Sunday, I did not cost this school district $70,000 with any female or any misdoing on my part," Hanna continued. "So please, before you attack my character, please, have your information.”

Superintendent Jackie Pons also weathered blows from both Hanna and Former Lively Technical Center Principal Woody Hildebrandt. They accused Pons of misusing the budget for political gain while he was superintendent.

“Our budget is in terrible shape," Hanna said. "The director of budgeting says they haven’t seen it this bad in years. We had to take half a million dollars out of the textbook fund to balance the budget. Half a million dollars that should have gone to books for our kids to balance the budget because of decisions that were made for political reasons instead of what’s best for our children.”

While Hildebrandt said Pons used district funds for personal entertainment.

“Land purchases, I want to get this straight," Hildebrandt said. "(Pons) said the other day at the Tallahassee Democrat when he and I was there that he didn’t purchase 40 to 50 acres out on Proctor Road. He did, and he put a 10 foot fence around it so that he and Paul Byrd and Danny Allbritton could have a little hunting club. They were the only three people in this county to have a key.”

However, Pons defended his spending by saying the budget is vetted by the community.

“You can always make improvements to make your system better," Pons said, "but I can tell you during the 10 years I’ve been superintendent we’ve kept this district in sound financial shape. You have a budget process, it goes through an open hearing that individuals can come out to.”

Tiger Bay members voted on who they thought had the best performance after the event.

Hanna won with 61 votes. Pons received second place with 30. Sunday and Hildebrandt received zero votes, and the remaining candidate, Forest Van Camp, received four.