Duval County School Board-can it evolve?

On Friday August 17, a Florida Times Union reporter called to ask me about one of the finalists for new Duval school superintendent, Kathy LeRoy.  As mentioned to the reporter, Kathy was recruited by me to serve as Duval’s chief of math and science and my successor promoted Kathy to Chief Academic Officer.

Kathy is a great asset to Duval County Schools.  I have no question about her integrity, ethics, preparation, or qualifications.

I also told the reporter that I do have questions about whether the Duval school board has evolved to be able to effectively support and govern a real change agent.  Can they finally embrace moving from rhetoric to action, and can they put their own personal and political interests aside for the interests of students, teachers, and families?  And especially when new ethics issues arise, as when I asked them to address serious ethical issues on the part of one board member, can they act with courage and conviction?

To be fair, a couple of board members, even in my time of having to deal with serious dysfunction on the school board, always tried to do the right things for students, families, teachers, and in the name of ethics.  Some of the “problems” rotated off the board and two more “problems” are due to depart in Decemeber.  This board has a shot at renewal and evolving to become an effective school board.  Some say it cannot, I hope it will.

Jacksonville deserves so much more, and so many have and are trying to make the Duval County school system a good organization for educating students and enriching a community.  We should all hope the school board gets with the program or at least gets out of the way of the new superintendent.

JW

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