I’m pretty well caught up on my Keys news after a week or two off. This editorial about Randy Acevedo on KeysNet.com is the last one I wanted to discuss. I like it because it’s a little more nuanced than the usual discussion of the topic. Comments seem to fall into two camps. The “move on, he’s paid his debt to society” camp and the “he should never show his face in the Keys ever again” camp.
What the letter got exactly right is that there is (or was) a system in place that allowed this situation to occur in the first place.
Years have passed, but it wasn’t too long ago. This is why we worry about how Randy Acevedo’s name got on a list of potential coaches and who put it there. No, School Board member Bobby Highsmith, it’s not a matter of “some in our community” not being able to “move on.” We fear this is the first splatter of the drip, drip, drip effort to return the district back to those bad old days.
Insisting that the injured party, in this case the taxpayers, “forgive” and “move on” is just another way to avoid accountability. The justice system has actually been quite lenient on Mr. Acevedo. He was a well-paid public official who betrayed the public’s trust in an egregious fashion. It’s clear that the taxpayers aren’t ready to “forgive” and “move on”. They should not be expected to. They are well within their rights to reject a person who has behaved as Mr. Acevedo did.
It was the system that allowed the Acevedo situation to occur. The letter does a great job of making that point. As of 2010, the school superintendent is not longer elected but appointed by the five-member school board. That move greatly enhances public oversight. But the letter lists other systemic weaknesses that still may exist.
The administration in the Acevedo era was full of people making high salaries who wouldn’t have been considered nearly qualified enough for similar positions in other districts. For example, most district Transportation Department heads have master’s degrees. Dori Collins, who oversaw the Keys schools’ Transportation Department at the time had a paralegal certificate. Such outrageous hires and promotions were the norm back then.
I think that Mr. Acevedo should be allowed to move on with his life. Right or wrong, he’s got a decent job at the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA). I’m in no position to judge if this was the bubba system at work or if he was truly the most qualified applicant. Everybody has to make a living, and this job at FKAA allows him to do that. But involvement in the school system, even as a volunteer, just doesn’t sit well. That, coupled with the demands to “forgive” and “move on” give the impression that its business as usual – graft, corruption and all. It’s the school district, not the public, who should be required to move on. That means cutting ties with the person who was primarily responsible for the scandal. It was Mr. Acevedo’s job to put a stop to the wrong-doing. Not only did he fail to stop it, he directly benefited from it.
There will be more to the story. Former school district finance director, Kathy Reitzel, has filed a whistle-blower lawsuit. Interesting stuff.