9/18/2016 Statement of Position
RE: Chairman’s Action to Terminate Superintendent Vitti
It has come to my attention that DCSB Chairman Ashley Smith-Juarez has scheduled a noticed meeting on Friday, September 23 of 2016 for the purpose of taking a vote to terminate Dr. Vitti’s contract with the school district. Only a week ago, Dr. Vitti’s performance evaluation by the collective board described him as an “effective” superintendent. With this, as well as his accomplishment in improving school grades as documented by the Florida Department of Education, calling this meeting is without any merit and is unwarranted. I support Dr. Vitti’s continued employment with the district and will vote against termination of his contract.
I have also learned Ashley Smith-Juarez has been acting unilaterally on matters that should come before the full board, and has been using coercive tactics to intimidate Dr. Vitti into resigning his position. Not only is this inappropriate, but is in violation of the policies and procedures of the Duval County School Board.
It is my opinion Smith-Juarez’s desire to terminate the Superintendent is based on her personal issues with Dr. Vitti and is unrelated to his actual work performance. It would be a tragic mistake to terminate Dr. Vitti in the middle of the comprehensive school reform work we are currently undertaking. In addition, termination in the middle of the school year would send a shock wave through the school system and likely damage students’ academic achievement. I can, in no way, find any cause to terminate Dr. Vitti at this time.
It is important to consider that the notice for the meeting on the 23rd makes no mention of its actual purpose. However, it is known by her spoken word to the Superintendent the purpose of this meeting is his termination. Clearly, Ashley Smith-Juarez has acted in an attempt to hide the true intent of this meeting and not been open and transparent with the public. This action disenfranchises the general public and their ability to make comment on the matter.
It is important that members of the public be aware of this significant, pending action and have the opportunity to state their opinion before this action is swept to conclusion in absence of public input. In what I believe is an attempt to minimize public input, the meeting to terminate Dr. Vitti has been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Friday. This means even teachers and school employees would be unable to participate, much less members of the general public who work jobs during normal business hours.
Members of the public from the Mandarin/Baymeadows area (District 7) are particularly marginalized as they do not currently have representation on the board, due to Jason Fischer’s resignation in order to run for a seat in the Florida House of Representatives. Warren Jones was elected to the District 5 seat and will take office in November, as will the new representative for District 7 who will be elected in the upcoming general election. I am concerned the vote is being pushed at this time to prevent the matter from being considered by the new, incoming elected representatives. With one district not represented and two of the seven school board seats about to be filled by new board members, the timing of this action could not be more inappropriate.
I stand by my support for Dr. Vitti’s continued employment with the district and will vote against termination, if this meeting takes place.
Board Member – District 2