Karen Castor Dentel

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Karen Castor Dentel
Karen Castor Dentel.jpg
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 30th district
In office
November 20, 2012 – November 18, 2014
Preceded by Ritch Workman
Succeeded by Bob Cortes
Personal details
Born (1968-09-08) September 8, 1968 (age 48)
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
Political party Democratic
  • Wyatt
  • Caroline
Alma mater Vanderbilt University (B.S.)
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (M.Ed.)
University of Florida (Ph.D.)
Profession Educator

Karen Castor Dentel (born September 8, 1968) is a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the 30th District, which includes Altamonte Springs, Casselberry, Maitland, and Winter Park in southern Seminole County and northern Orange County, since 2012.


Castor Dentel was born in Tampa to Donald Castor, a retired Hillsborough County Judge, and Betty Castor, who served as the President of the University of South Florida, Florida Education Commissioner, State Senator, and the 2004 Democratic nominee for the United States Senate. Her sister, Kathy Castor, is currently a United States Congresswoman from Florida's 14th congressional district. She graduated from George D. Chamberlain High School and then attended Vanderbilt University, where she received a bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1990. Castor Dentel then attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving her Master of Education in literacy studies in 1993. Finally, she attended the University of Florida, receiving her PhD in curriculum and instruction in 2001. For eleven years, she taught in the Orange County Public School system, and when she ran for the legislature, she was a second and third grade teacher in Maitland, FL.

Florida House of Representatives[edit]

When the state legislative districts were redrawn in 2012, incumbent State Representative Scott Plakon opted to run for re-election in the newly created 30th District so as to avoid a contentious primary with fellow Republican Chris Dorworth, which required him to relocate his family, as he did not live in the 30th District.[1] Castor Dentel opted to run against Plakon, winning the Democratic primary uncontested, and a contentious election ensued. Castor Dentel and Plakon took vastly different positions on a number of issues, including abortion, where Plakon supported legislation that would restrict access to abortion while Castor Dentel opposed any restrictions, and education, where Plakon supported the controversial parent-trigger legislation while Dentel "opposes private-school vouchers and the charter-school legislation." Castor Dentel attacked her opponent as "an extreme social conservative" while emphasizing her support for public schools.[2] The Orlando Sentinel endorsed Castor Dentel over Plakon, criticizing him for putting "too much of his energy into ideological crusades," like his attempts to "put new limits on abortion and decertify labor unions." They praised Castor Dentel for having a "smart platform for creating jobs and reviving Florida's economy that includes strengthening public education, promoting innovation through support for higher education and research, and upgrading Florida's infrastructure, including its ports."[3] In the last few days of the campaign, a political committee supporting Plakon sent out a mailer used a picture of Jerry Sandusky to attack Castor Dentel, claiming that she "would rather protect bad teachers and the union than young and impressionable students," which was condemned by both campaigns.[4] In the end, Castor Dentel was able to defeat Plakon by a surprisingly wide margin, winning 53% of the vote to Plakon's 47%.

During her time in the legislature, Castor Dentel strongly opposed a number of education reforms, including the controversial parent-trigger legislation, which would allow the parents of students attending failing schools to petition to create a charter school. She argued that the bill condemns local school boards and proclaims "outside, for-profit companies as heroes," noting, "It's about misleading the public."[5] Additionally, when Governor Rick Scott made the decision to withdraw the state from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers, she said that she "welcomed" that decision, but argued that, as Florida made the transition to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, "We don't have to test that year. We can pause."[6]


  1. ^ Klas, Mary Ellen (March 27, 2012). "Redrawn Senate map passes House, scramble for seats begin". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  2. ^ Garcia, Jason (October 26, 2012). "HD 30 race is competitive, costly". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  3. ^ "In House Districts 29, 30". Orlando Sentinel. October 11, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  4. ^ Tolomeo, Natalie (November 4, 2012). "Attack ad compares Florida House candidate to Jerry Sandusky". News 13. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  5. ^ Postal, Leslie (April 4, 2013). "Parent trigger, charter reform pass House". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  6. ^ McGrory, Kathleen (September 26, 2013). "Rep. Castor Dentel: Hit the pause button on testing". Miami Herald. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 

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