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Pinellas County School District wants parents to attend “univeristy”

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If ever there was a public agency charged with paying close attention to spellcheck and committed to giving written correspondence a second glance before distributing, it’s a school district.

But alas, the Pinellas County School District seems too much in a hurry to hit the send button to be bothered with things as silly as spelling. Literacy be damned.

In an email blast to parents Thursday inviting them to participate in a free workshop Saturday, someone over at the district overlooked a pretty basic typo. Instead of calling it a Parent University, the email reads “Parent Univeristy.”

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Now, I’m not usually one to split hairs over a typo – particularly one that I often make – but this is too low-hanging a fruit to pass up.

One, pay attention to those squiggly red lines, they’re most often correct in pointing out a misspelled word. Two, you’re a school district. Your (I had originally typed “you’re” here, but caught it when I proofread) whole job here is to educate children on things like correct spelling and, perhaps, even taking the time to read things a second time.

But perhaps most important is the frequency in which there are misspellings in district-distributed literature or on its property. Now, this may be old, but I recently spotted a hilarious gem from my own Alma Mater (I wasn’t sure if this had one T or two, so I looked it up with the Google.)

Lakewood High School, possibly in 2012 based on a web search for the image, promoted a literacy event on its school billboard. The event was called “Leaping to Literacy.” Whoever put the letters on the board spelled it “Laeping.” Now, I know it’s a custodial worker who assembles these signs, but certainly he or she warrants some oversight, just in case. This was just silly. And un-necessary.


And then there’s this. On the first day of school, as a mother of three Pinellas County public school students, I spend the first day of school after dinner at the dining room table pouring through various literature from my kids’ teachers, the district and school principals. This year I was appalled (I apparently spelled this word wrong the first go-round, but the red squiggly reminded me to give it a second look) at the number of basic errors mixed in with school snack schedules, teacher wish lists and various other bits of sometimes-useful information.

Poor grammar. Bad spelling. Incorrect tense. Awkward punctuation. You name it, I found it.

Now maybe Pinellas County Schools employees are busy figuring out how to improve its five chronically failing schools in South St. Pete to notice such errors. Or maybe that’s part of the problem.

There are a lot of things parents and members of the community should expect from their school district. Proper spelling is certainly on that list – if not at the top.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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