Challenge to Alachua County superintendent’s qualifications draws response from district
The Gainesville Sun | By Gershon Harrell | September 22, 2021
At a contentious meeting Tuesday of the Alachua County School Board, where public comments included calls for the superintendent to resign, the qualifications for the district’s chief also were challenged.
A citizen frustrated at her leadership stated that Carlee Simon didn’t have any valid certifications from the Florida Department of Education to hold the position of superintendent.
“In fact, Carlee Marie Poston Escue Simon has not had any valid certifications in the state of Florida, or Ohio since 2013,” the citizen yelled at board members.
Within Simon’s contract under section 10.3 it reads that throughout her time as superintendent she must keep a valid certification in administration and supervision “as issued by the Florida Department of Education.”
In a statement issued Wednesday, school board attorney David Delaney said that in his opinion the superintendent has not breached her contract.
Delaney stated Simon has not had a change in the status of her certification issued by the FDOE since her employment with Alachua Schools. He also mentioned that the superintendent’s resume states that her certifications expired in 2013.
“Therefore she has not failed to ‘maintain and keep’ certification that was not in effect at the time of her employment. Similarly, the superintendent has not had any ‘change in the status of such certification’ or a ‘suspension, revocation, or lapse’ of a certification during the contract. Put simply, the contract says ‘maintain and keep’ not ‘obtain’, as she does not currently have a certification,” Delaney’s statement reads.
According to Simon’s summary of experiences and skills, she had three certifications from the state of Florida: one certificate in mathematics for grades 6-12, engineering and technology for grades 6-12, and another in educational leadership on all levels.
Simon also argued that in the state of Florida a certification is not required to operate the school district.
“There are many superintendents who have never been educators so I am fully qualified to serve as superintendent,” Simon said.
In a statement issued from Simon, she believes that her educational and professional experience speaks for its self.
“Clearly this is non-issue. It has been promoted primarily by a small group of citizens who are opposed to the district’s strong stand on masks and other strategies for limiting the spread of COVID-19 within our schools and community,” Simon said.
Simon was appointed interim superintendent on Dec. 15, 2020, after three of the school board members voted out former chief Karen Clarke.
Simon was moved into the position permanently on March 16, 2021, with a $175,000 raise that included a $650 monthly car allowance and a cell phone.