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Monday, June 11, 2012

The Duval County school board mishandled the new superintendent process

The school board announced on February 24th that they weren’t going to bring the superintendent back. Reeling from the lack of the lack of transparency they exhibited when they let him go they vowed to have transparency when picking the new one. You heard conflicting reports about when that would occur. At first they said they would replace Pratt-Dannals when his contract came to an end in December but then it seemed like they had settled on a July date.

At the time only one of the Board members, Tommy Hazouri had announced he would not be returning. Martha Barrett and Betty Burney had filed and Gentry was in month two of his will he won’t he tour. He ultimately decided not to.

I was aghast, you see Burney, Barrett and Hazouri had helped pick the last two superintendents arguably disasters for the city’s students and teachers and now here they were about to pick the next one. I relented in my opinion some when they announced they hoped to have the next super in place by July. My reasoning was it was better to have the next Super in place before the school year began and to get rid of Pratt-Dannals as soon as possible. Pratt-Dannals despite a few assertions that he has done a good job has literally sucked the oxygen out of the room for most teachers. Morale is at an all time low and teachers where pay and paperwork are on the list, it is other things like being treated in a respectful manner and supported that are higher.

The board started having community meetings on April 9th a full 45 days after they let the superintendent go and have four more planned through the 25th of June, some 77 days after the first meeting and 122 days after they let the super go, talk about a sense of urgency. Why did we wait so long to start the community meetings? Why were they spaced out so much?

I am writing this on June 11, 2012, 108 days after they let the super go and now they have said they might not have the new superintendent in place till sometime in September. We now also know that the board will be radically different with at least 3 and hopefully 4 new members. That means a lame duck board, many of whom have a bad track record at picking supers, will be picking a super who will have bosses that didn’t hire them. I can’t be the only one that sees recipe for disaster, written all over this.

I say if we can’t have a new super in place before the 12-13 school year begins, give Pratt-Dannals a walk, place an interim super in the seat and wait until the next board is in place. After all whoever they are they will have a better track record than the current board for picking superintendents and they will be the ones that the next super will be working for. I hope this current board can set aside their personal opinions and agendas and do what is best for the city’s families and teachers.

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