Family first: Hale resigns from school board

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New member leaving after two months to care for ailing relatives

By Mike Wright

CRYSTAL RIVER — Susan Hale was the low-key candidate in a low-key race who voters elected to office over an established two-term incumbent.

And after just two months on the job, Hale walked away.

Hale abruptly resigned Monday from the Citrus County School Board, saying she wanted to spend more time with ailing family members, including her mother and husband.

“This is where my focus needs to be,” she said in an interview.

Hale, who defeated Bill Murray in the August primary, attended just three board meetings and participated very little in the               discussions.

She said the problem wasn’t learning the complexities of the school district, state funding or property tax issues involving Progress Energy Florida.

Rather, she said, health issues involving her family escalated since taking office in mid-November.

“A lot can happen quickly,” she said.

Hale, a former technology teacher at Lecanto High School, declined to discuss her family’s health issues. Asked if her own health contributed to the decision to resign, Hale said, “a little bit,” but declined to elaborate.

Hale gave a brief resignation letter to board Chairwoman Ginger Bryant that offered no explanation for her decision.

“This letter is to serve as my official resignation from my current position of Citrus County District IV School Board Member, Citrus County, Florida. This resignation is to take effect immediately,” the letter reads. “Thank you for your cooperation and kind consideration of this matter.”

Her resignation left board members shocked.

“I’m bewildered. I don’t know what happened,” Bryant said. “I’ve never seen that happen before.”

Board members Pat Deutschman and Thomas Kennedy said it seemed Hale was having trouble fitting in.

“She seemed to be very uncomfortable in the role, very unprepared,” Deutschman said. “I think people underestimate the difficulty and responsibility of being a school board member.”

Kennedy said Hale didn’t show enthusiasm on the board.

“I’m not sure she really knew why she wanted the job, and sometimes that seemed apparent,” he said. “I don’t know what motivated her to be a board member.”

Hale said the issue was family health and nothing more.

“My heart’s still there, no doubt about it,” she said.

Hale praised board members and the administration.

“It’s been a great two months,” she said. “I have nothing but positives.”

Hale’s resignation leaves the school board with four members until Gov. Rick Scott appoints a replacement.

Murray declined to comment on Hale’s resignation and said he hadn’t thought about whether he would seek appointment to fill the vacancy.

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.