Investigation centers on Osceola County School Board



OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - The State Attorney's Office told WFTV Eyewitness News that it is looking into possible wrongdoing at the problem-plagued Osceola County school district.

The move comes amid ongoing fighting between school board members.

The district is on its third superintendent in 15 months.

Investigators at the State Attorney's Office are reviewing video of school board meetings and even looking into board member's emails.

Video from a June 20 school board meeting is at the center of the criminal investigation.

In the video, School Board Member Barbara Horn brings up the idea of removing then-Superintendent Terry Andrews.

A few minutes later, board member Cindy Hartig is seen producing a box that she said was full of documents to support his removal.

Hartig told WFTV's Nancy Alvarez that she did her own six-month investigation into Andrews. She said she kept a journal, emails and other records in her car at all times.

"I was ready that night, or any other night that somebody would bring it up," said Hartig.

"Did you ever meet with Barbara Horn or anyone else about Terry Andrews, or any issue involving the district?" Alvarez asked Hartig.

"Absolutely not," said Hartig.

But in an email to state Rep. Darren Soto, board member Jay Wheeler alleges the two women collaborated before the meeting (read the email). Soto forwarded the complaint to the State Attorney's Office.

"The truth needs to come out, regardless of what it is," said Apryl Jackson, president of the Osceola County Education Association.

Jackson said parents and teachers are fed up with the ongoing drama involving board members.

Hartig has filed a defamation lawsuit against Wheeler.

Allegations that some board members have broken the law have Jackson concerned about the children caught in the middle.

"The most important thing is that our children see how our elected officials behave, and they're an example for our children to follow as they become adults," said Jackson.

Horn spoke with Alvarez on the phone Monday and denied any wrongdoing.

Violating the Sunshine Law is a misdemeanor that usually carries a fine of between $500 and $1,000.