Two negative headlines faced Jacksonville Florida this week. Failure to consider a Human Rights Ordinance, name-calling and dueling press conferences between members of the School Board, the NAACP and the Superintendent of Schools.
With a soft gloved punch to the political chin, the conservative movement won the day last week as City Councilmen Tommy Hazouri and Bill Gulliford withdrew their competing bills on the Human Rights Ordinance. With a wink and a nod from Mayor Lenny Currie, who declared a week earlier that there was no need for such legislation and that he was issuing an executive order that would ban such discrimination in city government and among those who contract with the government. That seemed to be enough to relieve most members of the city council from seeing a need to vote on anything related to this issue.
Chalk this as a win for the conservative movement in Jacksonville. The HRO won’t see the light of day again for two years.
School Board member Constance Hall, a 30 year educator, who ran from a predominantly African American School District, apparently decided that speaking her peace during school board meetings wasn’t enough. Board member Hall decided that she would blow off steam to a school district staff member in an email no less, to express her frustration over her employee’s behavior. That employee just happens to be the Superintendent of Schools Nikolai Vitti.
One has to wonder, why board member Hall wouldn’t tell Vitti to his face or inform other board members of her decision to see him “fired”. One has to wonder about the competence of an elected official who would use email of all things to transmit such personal animosity in a time in which everyone knows that all communication by a public official is public and would eventually be released. Especially an attack piece like this.
Well , the predictable happened next, the local branch members of the NAACP, friends of Hall, sought to soften her embarrassment by echoing the same old refrain that the Superintendent and the school board should strengthen predominantly African-American schools by placing stronger leadership in them, placing more tenured teachers in them, and stop magnetizing them. The parents and guardians of these students as well as the school-based support organizations like the PTSA or School Advisory Councils or the NAACP never bare any responsibility for what happens in their communities. It’s always the fault of ….the ….Man.
So it begs the question: Board Member Hall is in her second term on the School Board. What has she proposed and gotten passed that would have made a difference in the lives of the students and the schools in her district? True, Board member Hall did not support the selection of Vitti for Superintendent, but she has a duty to put forth suggestions, sell those suggestions to her constituents and lobby her fellow Board Members for passage, from which the Superintendent would be directed to carry out. What the public and her constituents shouldn’t see is childish back alley whining and belly aching over an employee that she has full power to confront at any time and move a motion for his dismissal.