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Law clerk enters School Board race

By ROBERT KING

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 9, 2000


SPRING HILL -- Shannon Laviano has two kids, a law degree, police academy training and a taste of what it's like to work in the mission field.

Now she wants to be a School Board member.

Laviano, 35, filed papers last week making her the fourth candidate seeking to replace board member Jerry Milby, who is not seeking re-election for the District 2 seat. It is her first attempt at political office.

"I love my kids and I want to be able to do what I can to make sure their education is top-notch," said Laviano, whose eldest son is a student at Chocachatti Elementary. She has another son who is 3.

Laviano has a law degree from Barry University in Orlando. She is a law clerk in the office of Spring Hill lawyer Sabato DeVito. She takes her first shot at the bar exam in July and, if successful, will begin practicing law soon after.

Aside from her duties as a law clerk, Laviano has taught aerobics at the Hernando County Family YMCA and completed police training at Citrus County's Withlacoochee Technical Institute, where she says she became comfortable with police weaponry.

"They called me Annie Oakley at the police academy," Laviano said.

At Nativity Lutheran Church in Weeki Wachee, she directed the church's Bible school for four years, its youth group for two years and is still president of the church women's group.

Her involvement at Nativity Lutheran recently took her on a mission trip to Haiti, where she and others helped set up a library in a school there.

A native Floridian, Laviano moved from Pinellas County to Hernando County in 1987. She lives at 3383 Everett Ave. in Spring Hill.

Already in the non-partisan race for the District 2 seat are Dominick Ruggiero, Raymond Wing and former School Board member Gail Coleman.

Laviano said her candidacy is not driven by any one hot-button issue. She said she has a lot of respect for the district's teachers. But she is concerned about the high numbers of students who fail to graduate.

Her other concerns include a desire to ensure that all students have access to a top-quality education. And she wants parents to get more involved in school, something she is trying to practice at her son's school.

"I have a vested interest," Laviano said of her interest in a School Board seat. "I want to make sure there is a good school system."

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