Resume lie forces finalist out

Published March 9, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - A candidate to be superintendent of schools in Hernando County has withdrawn his application, a day after the St. Petersburg Times confronted him with evidence he had misrepresented some facts on his resume.

School Board Chairman Pat Fagan said he'd been prepared to call an emergency meeting to consider disqualifying Craig Bangtson, but the candidate's withdrawal Thursday made that unnecessary.

"I was going to recommend that we as a board do something, once I read it in the newspaper this morning," Fagan said. "I personally didn't feel we needed to be spending money on someone who lied on his application and misrepresented himself to the board."

Bangtson was one of six finalists to replace retiring superintendent Wendy Tellone. He was scheduled to be flown to Florida for an interview, along with the other five finalists.

A consultant and retired superintendent from Kentucky, Bangtson claimed on the resume he sent the Hernando school system that he worked three years as superintendent of the Bartow County schools in Georgia, from July 2002 through June 2005.

But residents and the local newspaper in Georgia told a different story: that Bangtson was hired there in June of 2003, following a yearlong "retirement" between jobs, and lost his job 18 months later following allegations of abusive behavior toward subordinates.

In a resume he sent to an Arkansas school district two years ago, Bangtson said he was "retired" between July 1, 2002, and June 30, 2003.

And he told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette that he left Bartow County of his own accord in November 2004 because he didn't like the outcome of a school board election.

"I was hoping for a change for the better," he said. "A lot of the board members didn't get along with each other, and it was a tough situation to have to be the arbitrator all the time."

In fact, the Bartow County School Board voted 3-0 on Oct. 17 to "relieve him of his duties." That came after Bangtson was alleged to have shouted and sworn during one public meeting and called a principal a "pipsqueak" and a "prima donna" in another, reported the Daily Tribune newspaper in Cartersville.

The district ultimately voted in November to sever the superintendent's employment agreement and pay him a salary and benefits through March 2005, Tribune reporter Jon Gargis told the St. Petersburg Times.

Though Bangtson claimed on his resume to have worked in Bartow through June 2005, his replacement said that wasn't true.

"No, I was there in '05," said Billy Johnson, a Georgia School Boards Association official who arrived at the district that fall on short notice to serve as an interim superintendent.

Confronted with those facts Wednesday night, Bangtson acknowledged that his Hernando resume wasn't accurate.

"But you're not the School Board," he added. "I'm just applying for a job."

By morning, officials said, Bangtson had called Hernando officials and withdrawn his application.

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or 352 848-1431.