Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt named former Buddy Taylor Middle School Principal Robert Bossardet III, known as Bobby throughout the district, as the Executive Director of Leadership Development for Flagler Schools. Bossardet replaces Earl Johnson, who was shifted to a different administrative position previously held by Lynette Shott, who retired in July: Executive Director of Student and Community Engagement and Operations.
The announcement was downplayed, with a link on the district’s Facebook page back to a release tucked deep inside the district’s website. There was no announcement to media by email, as has previously been the custom with administrative appointments, especially those involving changes in the top ranks of the district’s schools.
Johnson had applied to be superintendent. He made it to the final four, but the school board passed him over for Mittelstadt, who’d been an assistant superintendent in St. Johns County. Johnson has been itching to leave Flagler since: he applied for the superintendent opening in Escambia County last summer and made it to the final four there as well, and again was passed over.
The move to the student and community engagement position isn’t technically a demotion: former Superintendent Jacob Oliva established four executive director positions as seemingly equal, though his right-hand man was Vernon Orndorff, who filled the leadership development post, just as Johnson had been former Superintendent Jim Tager’s right-hand man in the same post. The leadership development office is the only one that has a direct door into the superintendent’s office. The student and community engagement office, in comparison, is two floors below.
“The opening came up in student engagement when Lynette retired, that was kind of the first domino to fall,” Jason Wheeler, the district’s chief spokesman, said. “My understanding was that Earl wanted another challenge.” Johnson was also the highest-placed Black administrator in the district’s hierarchy–a district that last year lost Terence Culver, one of two Black principals in the system, who had been a popular, then controversial, principal at Belle Terre Elementary. His tenure ended there under the cloud of a state criminal investigation.
Culver was replaced by Assistant principal Jessica Deford, who will remain Belle Terre’s acting principal. The permanent position has not yet been filled. Bossardet remains physically at Buddy Taylor and will do so until a replacement is found, Wheeler said. The two assistant principals there are Cara Cronk and Stacia Collier.
“Bobby’s ability to empower others will be an asset to developing all of our employees to aspire to be highly effective in their various roles serving our educational mission,” Mittelstadt was quoted as saying in a release posted on the district’s website this afternoon.
Bossardet, a popular administrator in the district, had “worked some magic” at Buddy Taylor, where he’d followed John Fanelli, who also left the Buddy Taylor principalship for the district office after only a brief tenure. Bossardet had served at Buddy Taylor just over two years. Citing his work ethic, Tager had named him to the post in July 2018.
Bossardet is a 1999 graduate of Flagler Palm Coast High School, where he was a state championship wrestler. He attended Carson Newman College and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Exceptionalities in 2003. He earned his Masters in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University in 2007. For 14 years before his move to Buddy Taylor, he was a teacher, coach and assistant principal at Flagler Palm Coast High School.
“I appreciate Superintendent Mittelstadt giving me this opportunity,” Bossardet said. “I have a passion for Flagler Schools and I want to do everything I can to make this district and the employees as successful as they can be, no matter what their job title is.”
Bobby Bossardet is the brother of David Bossardet, the district’s safety specialist and risk manager, whose office will be on the same floor as his brother’s, though David’s is closer to that of the board attorney than to the superintendent’s.