Osceola schools chairman blames 'incompetent' board members for district decline


OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - The outspoken chairman of the Osceola County School Board blames his board members for declining test scores.

Jay Wheeler has never held back words.

That was again the case Thursday when he told Eyewitness News that poor student test scores and declining school grades can be blamed on the school board he oversees.

"Board members have an incredible impact on the progress a district does or does not make," Wheeler said.

The board chairman filled out a superintendent review.

He had harsh words for fellow members Barbara Horn and Tom Long and former member Cindy Hartig.

He wrote, "The Osceola school district started on a path of upheaval, academic declines and senior level staff resignations due to the lack of intellect, wrongful motivations and general incompetence of the board members."

"I've made it clear in a (school) retreat to Tom Long and Barbara Horn that I don't trust them. I don't respect them. They're both beyond rehabilitation," Wheeler said.

Parents weren't so quick to blame the board.

"The parents should be the ones helping with the schooling," said parent Sue Binette.

"I'm their mom, and definitely I have an obligation to help them, but they are teachers. They have an obligation to do their job," parent Nery Espinosa said.

Elementary and middle schools have seen drops in the past year. There were 16 A schools in 2012 and seven A schools this year.

In 2012, the district had five C schools. This year it has 12.

Wheeler is notorious for being outspoken of others but not taking blame himself.

"I have to, but I stood up to them. I was the one who made it clear how bad they were," Wheeler said.