Clay School Board elections reflect rift between superintendent, some board members
|By Teresa Stepzinski, The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
That raises the question whether the election is essentially a referendum on
Often voting together, Studdard, Kerekes and Bullock compose the majority of the five-member board and they've implemented a series of policy and procedure changes to limit what
The third board seat is
PERSONALITIES AT ISSUE
Until now, bitter feuding between
"The issues are the cast of players at hand," said
Condon seeks to oust Bullock. Leigh and another candidate,
Administrators gave three reasons to the board for postponing the disciplinary hearings. However, Bullock said the real reason was the fundraiser. She said
"I have no problem with him saying these are the people I'm supporting. That's fine. That's his right. But when our district suffers because of it, then I have a problem with it," said Bullock, noting stragglers weren't mentioned in the email.
<p>In an email Tuesday to the Times-Union,
"It's no secret, that I would like to have a school board leadership team that focuses on students. And it's no secret that I feel like a couple members of our current board don't," he said Wednesday. "But I have to run a big school system and work with whoever shows up. So that's really all I am willing to say about that."
Condon in an email to the Times-Union, said she couldn't talk because she had laryngitis and was going out of town for a family event. She referred questions to her campaign consultant,
Leigh told the Times-Union he didn't know whether
"No, I am not his handpicked candidate," Leigh said.
The other candidates: Shepherd in
However, Bullock, Kerekes and Dunnavant's campaign contributions include donations from Studdard as well as former Superintendent
"I think this is a referendum, if anything, on what
Describing the campaign as nasty, Leigh said he thinks the election "is more for or against civility, rather than a referendum on
"I think right now people aren't happy with the board or the superintendent. My research has revealed that, [and] I believe it's the board's fault. I think they [people] are sick of the fighting," Leigh said. "If
Shepherd said any time there is a school election cycle it will affect the superintendent and his ability to perform. She doesn't relate this election to
Gilhousen said she hopes the election isn't based on
Graham said he doesn't think the election is about
"People running to either help or hurt the superintendent is not the reason people should run for public office. They should run for public office to improve the education of
However, Kerekes and Bullock said
"The fact is, he's got his candidates and he's working behind the scenes. ... He has polarized our community and politicized our schools," said Kerekes, citing the June campaign event as an example.
Dunnavant is trusting in county voters -- describing them as smart and savvy enough to understand the significance of the board elections. "I believe when they look at all the
District employees, for the most part, are trying to keep their heads down, according to several who didn't want their names published.
Teachers are terrified to speak out if they disagree with the superintendent, said
"That is what the problem is when it's political. ... It's now this big huge political football and it's not about the kids," Paiva said. "It's only when politics gets involved that it all gets muddy. And it's pretty muddy right now in
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