Problems in accounting contributed to ouster of Glazer Children’s Museum leader

Paul GuzzoTimes staff writer


Published: October 19, 2018


TAMPA — Failure to properly document the use of a $211,000 grant is one example of job failures that led to the firing last month of Jennifer Stancil, chief executive since 2015 of the Glazer Children’s Museum, the museum’s board chairman said.

The grant money from the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County helped pay for 139 students to take part in Science Action Clubs run by the museum. But the Children’s Board complained in a July letter that the museum had failed to provide information about the children that was required to justify the grant.

The contract wasn’t the only reason Stancil was fired, board chairman Kenneth Curtin said, but it did serve as a “discussion point” in the board’s unanimous vote to take the action.

Curtin said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday that Stancil had voluntarily resigned in September as head of the private, nonprofit museum. But in about face, he said during a conference call Thursday with the Times that his statement wasn’t true.


“I’ve done that in my private practice,” he said. “When people get terminated, we give them the option to voluntarily resign with severance.”

He added, “We wanted to be fair. She has a family. We appreciate all she has done.”

At Curtin’s instruction Tuesday, members of the museum board declined to comment on the departure.

One of them was Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman. Murman, also on the conference call Thursday, was more forthcoming, saying, “I don’t think it’s a secret that Jen and I didn’t get along that well.”

Murman added, “I rose to a higher level and tried to evaluate her on her work performance and go forward from there. … We believe we can find someone who can do a better job, to be honest.”

The Times reported Wednesday that Stancil had been forced out, citing emails obtained from the city of Tampa. Representatives from the city and Hillsborough County, which contribute to the museum’s budget, sit on the museum board.


Under Florida’s public records law, the Children’s Board, a taxpayer-funded agency, provided the Times with accounts of its $211,000 grant to the Children’s Museum.


In a July 18 letter to the Children’s Museum, Children’s Board executive director Kelley Parris said the board could not proceed with a contract on one museum program because the museum was out of compliance on another. Parris said the museum would need to submit a Provider Improvement Plan and recover missing demographic information about the children served by the Science Action Clubs.

The museum corrected the mistake, Curtin said Thursday, and the grant expired at the end of its term in September.

Stancil could not be reached for comment this week.

A severance agreement mentioned in emails obtained by the Times would pay Stancil six months salary, or $86,750. Negotiations on her severance are ongoing, Curtin said.


Stancil, 48, joined the children’s museum in November 2015 from PBS affiliate WQED in Pittsburgh.

The museum operates on revenues of $3.5 million a year — up from $2.45 million when Stancil arrived, according to its 2017 federal tax filing.

“For the last few years finances have been good,” Curtin said. “We haven’t borrowed any money. We have no debt.”

Asked how the museum’s direction might change under a new leader, Curtin said, “In order to bring the museum to the next level, we need a CEO who can get those community donors … and that is what I want to see — more community involvement.”