As Duval School Board meets over bad teachers, is Superintendent Diana Greene’s job safe?
Florida Times-Union | By Steve Patterson | April 25, 2023
Days before a Wednesday meeting about a legal review of teacher misconduct at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, a crowd rallied to protect the job of Superintendent Diana Greene.
Should the two subjects have anything to do with each other, anyway?
The question holds extra meaning after repeated friction between Duval County schools and state education administrators ultimately accountable to Gov. Ron DeSantis and appointees his office approves.
Greene’s employment isn’t on the School Board’s Wednesday 1 p.m. meeting agenda.
But a year of turnover among Florida superintendents has made it easier for school-watchers to appreciate political risks to the woman overseeing Duval County’s system of 129,000 students and 7,354 teachers.
“Greene has endured constant scrutiny by state officials looking for anything to get rid of her just like so many others that don’t bend to their will,” former School Board member Elizabeth Andersen wrote on Twitter last week. Nine of the 29 Florida superintendents who, like Greene, were appointed instead of elected have resigned or been replaced since November, the Treasure Coast Newspapers reported.
Greene “has tried to accommodate them,” Andersen tweeted about state officials, “but it was only a matter of time before they found a way to force her out.”
A Democratic lawmaker blamed partisan politics for putting Greene’s job future in doubt.
“I fully believe this is a partisan witch hunt with a Republican school board and Republican-led Department of Education to target one of the last stronghold Democratic superintendents in the state,” state Sen. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, said in a statement emailed to reporters.
But School Board Chair Kelly Coker talked about the approaching meeting as simply a step toward ensuring student safety.
“As a board, we are committed to hiring third-party counsel to complete an independent investigation of the events that led to the recent arrest of Jeffrey Clayton,” Coker said in an email routed through a school district spokesman.
“The Douglas Anderson community and our community-at-large deserve our commitment to and focus on ensuring the safety and well-being of the students that attend Duval County Public Schools. Our meeting on Wednesday will move us closer to that goal,” Coker wrote.
Clayton, a 65-year-old music teacher with a long history of coaching singers, was charged last month with lewd conduct with a student, a felony.
That jolt was compounded by unrelated reviews of other faculty and the disclosure last week of earlier complaints involving Clayton, most recently in 2021.