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Rocky Hanna Wins Leon Superintendent Race


Former Leon High School Principal Rocky Hanna is the new superintendent of schools. Hanna beat incumbent Jackie Pons in a landslide Tuesday with more than half of the vote. Hanna’s supporters cheered him Tuesday night as he took a victory lap. An emotional Hanna thanked his friends and supporters. Several years ago he fought against being moved from his role as principal of Leon High School into the district’s administrative office. Now, he says things happen for a reason.

“Sometimes in the immediate moment, it’s hard to see what that reason is. Maybe this was for a greater calling. And it’s my call to recreate the magic I feel we have at Leon High School for all our schools," he said.

School Board member Alva Swafford Striplin says she’s tried to stay impartial in the race and says the transition to new leadership will begin shortly.

“It will all play out. Rocky will take his usual heart-felt initiatives. And he will put his heart into that job. He’s obviously put it into it for a year and a half. We’re not the first county to undergo a change in superintendent, so we will figure it out, and our schools will continue to be successful under his leadership," she said. "He may make some changes and the school board will rally around him. We will work for a unified group no matter what.”

The race for school superintendent has been one of the more contentious in the county, with teachers choosing sides amid fears of retribution. Hanna says he’s not that kind of person:

“It’s disappointing, it’s sad they feel that way to begin with.  I harbor no ill will toward anyone who held a Jackie Pons sign or wore a t-shirt."

The race started off contentious. Hanna was one of two people who pulled together documents that alleged Pons steered construction contracts to political donors which sparked an FBI investigation that continues.

Pons took a hit over an attack ad against Hanna which backfired after the name of Hanna's daughter was published.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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