School board member: Meeting called to vote out Superintendent Vitti

Jason Rantala reports. 9/19/2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—A Duval County school board member says the board chairman is trying to fire Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.
Board member Scott Shine alleges the school board chairperson, Ashley Smith Juarez, told Vitti this: Resign our I'll call for your termination.

Shine says he first heard the rumors late last week. He says Dr. Vitti was surprised. Shine says he's shocked, especially after Dr. Vitti's rating as "effective" during a recent evaluation.

Shine, on Vitti: "He's probably very stressed about this but he's a strong individual, and has handled this, I believe very professionally."

"I felt that this is something people need to know about. I didn't want this to be swept to conclusion without people being able to provide input," says Shine.

It's input Shine says will come at a 10:30 a.m. school board meeting.

While the purpose of the meeting states "governance and administration," Shine insists the meeting was set by Smith Juarez to vote Vitti out.

"Now that this is out in the sunshine, people are aware of it and people can make public comment," says Shine.

Shine says he doesn't know why Smith Juarez would want to terminate Vitti now, in the middle of the school year.

He says the reasoning seems personal, while acknowledging there seems to be tension between Vitti and some board members.

During Vitti's evaluation, Smith Juarez wrote some pointed comments, that Vitti is "often disrespectful to board members" and has "misrepresented the truth publicly and privately."

Shine hopes not only to get the public aware of this meeting, which he says was set at a time when parents cannot show up, but to ultimately get the meeting canceled.

"Hopefully this meeting will be canceled and hopefully people will back down, and we can go back to talking about this and not take action," says Shine.

In an e-mail forwarded to First Coast News, Smith Juarez wrote the following:

"We have spent extensive time examining student achievement data and the Superintendent's projections for proficiency growth moving forward.  At the last workshop we agreed that there was not a clear path forward for our district and I was deeply troubled by both the results and the lack of an aggressive, effective plan for student achievement."

"I called a Special Meeting for Friday to give the governance team the opportunity to deliberate a path forward that is best for children. I intend to discuss how we can do better for the children and the city we serve."


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