Duval County Public Schools “ Red Wedding”

Yeah I admit it, I am into Game of Thrones, this is the
second time in a week I will use a recent episode to illustrate the workings of
Duval County.
If you didn’t know, in GOT several main characters were unexpectedly
killed after a wedding where they had broken bread with the hosts. You kind of
knew something was going to happen but most of us didn’t expect the massacre,
hence the red wedding.
When Vitti came to Jacksonville many of us hoped for
changes. For far to long whom you knew not your ability determined how far you
rose or sunk in the county. Vitti himself said he was going to send some admins
back to the schools and we should have had an inkling about what could happen when Ken Sutton the ESE
chief was demoted all the way to an assistant principal slot. He showed up one
day and then retired. The thing is I had no idea and I don’t think many others
did either about the bloodletting that was about to occur at the Ivory Tower on
Prudential drive.
The three biggest drops happened to Tony Bellamy, former
chief of high schools who will now lead Southside Middle School; Carolyn Davis,
former executive director of elementary schools, who will now lead Henry Kite
Elementary and Jacqueline Byrd, former chief of K-8 schools, who will now lead
John E. Ford K-8. This is like demoting generals to sergeants and the loss of
pay will be in the tens of thousands for all three.
Most of the other moves seemed to just be the annual
shifting around of principals, something you might not have known but about a third of our principals are shifted each and every year. In an average
four year period there are more moves than schools the district has. 
Vitti says there are more moves to come in July perhaps
a red honeymoon.
Here are the other moves mentioned in the Times Union: LaShawn Blackshear, former R.V. Daniels principal, will lead Susie
Tolbert Elementary School. 
Robert Gresham, former West Jacksonville
Elementary principal, will lead R.V. Daniels Elementary. 
Susan Hamer, former West Riverside
Elementary principal, will lead Sheffield Elementary. 
Deidra Johnson, former Henry Kite Elementary
principal, will lead San Mateo Elementary. 
Sylvia Johnson, former K-8 schools executive
director, will lead West Riverside Elementary. 
Stephanie Manabat, former turnaround schools
executive director, will lead Enterprise Elementary. 
Darrell Perry, former Southside Middle
School principal, will lead Timucuan Elementary. 
Kenneth Reddick, who was also a turnaround
schools executive director, will lead Fort Caroline Middle School.  
Nicole Townsend, for Susie Tolbert
Elementary principal, will lead West Jacksonville Elementary. 
Walker, former elementary schools executive director, will lead Westview


6 Replies to “Duval County Public Schools “ Red Wedding””

  1. Chris, you probably have a bulls eye on your back from all of these blogs. I respect your candor but also worry that some might wonder about your slants. You tend to praise questionable individuals while also condemning others whom are likewise questionable. I find it interesting that you've probably not worked under most of the folks you speak about. Like the Super, most of the information you report on is hearsay. But not to worry, people read and no doubt share these blogs because they are curious, hurting, or anxious about what is to come. The truth about blogs is that those reading should remind themselves that these are opinion pieces and that everyone is entitled to have one.

    To that end, here's MY opinion about this blog:
    The public and probably principals and other school staff vilified Bellamy to the extent that he and a few of the others became targets of the new administration. But, while this administration is clearly punishing some to the point of killing the spirit, others seemingly with the same reputation have been able to keep their jobs and incomes; still others are being promoted while carrying the same baggage as the condemned. Confusing. Regarding confusion, the board meeting the other day was a prime example. The I'm a star debacle and "Reinstate Maxey" cries were embarrassing distractions to the district's real issues.

    Here's s rhetorical question with clarifying points for you Chris:

    When people are demoted, faced with significant financial loss, and forced into roles they had not originally considered, how effective will they be?

    The fact that all of this will ultimately affect children is the real issue Chris. We will ultimately have tons of individuals forced to classrooms whom had not been there for a decade or more; whom are angry because they do not understand how they were surplussed; and whom are not being provided with valuable information about when or where they will be placed. Fear is always an ineffective motivator.

    My answer to My question? I guess we will soon see.

    Your thoughts?

  2. I feel like you slammed me in the first paragraph and then agreed with everything I have said in the proceeding ones.

    The truth is we desperately needed some changes. The truth is leadership has been a real problem in the district and our bench is pretty weak. I don't understand why Viti has made some of his choices because you are right, he demotes one bully with bad data and promotes another.

    What I think we need to do is recruit the veteran teachers in our schools that the other teachers look to and go to for help, the ones that have great classroom management and whose kids always seem to do a little better than everyone elses, many of whom have never thought about going into administration. Just because you can pass a test or have enough free time to go to an academy it does not make one a leader.

    Then we need to look to the surrounding districts. We need to go to St. Johns and Clay and recruit their best leaders and teachers to come to our schools both as admins and teachers. The champions for education have raised 11 million for TFA, which is a complete debacle and instead we need to use that money to get lifelong educators of the highest quality to come here.

    Finally you have some great points there (accept for the whole slamming me part) I would love for you to put them together and put them in a post for the blog and then for you to send it to the Times Union as a letter to the editor. I am not sure if many people have considered them.

  3. Slamming?? Man I said I have great respect for you. Just want you to be careful in your reporting and not allow others to cause you to infer things that may or may not be completely true. People will have to do a little work to unearth my identity but you use your real name. You're doing good work just be careful and stay above the fray.

    Regarding your suggestions, not sure if I share you're bravado but I do want you to know that you have a lot of people's attention. With that kind of informal power comes responsibility. I challenge you to be the voice of the hurting because there are tons of employees who are hurt because the vision isn't as clear as they originally expected. Some of our most talented people have and are leaving for St Johns and Clay, and Nassau as admin and teachers. Maybe we should have asked them a few questions before they left. Not sure if getting people from those other counties is the answer but nothing could hurt at this point.

    You are right, the district needed leadership and still does. I guess my question to everyone once excited (that someone had been hired to lead a district this large, whom had never managed anything the size of DCPS) but was recently affected by the reorganization is: "how is that change working for you?"

  4. Carolyn Davis got what she deserved. I just hoped the rest who were involved in my nonreappointment and now black listing get what they deserve i.e lashawn Russ, another nasty, immature bully. These two plus the unfortunate high number of African American females in principalships that continue to ruin the careers of so many good teachers.

  5. This suspense is dragging on for too long for me to bear. I agree with the previous comment about the unfortunate number of principals who continue to bully and demoralize their subordinates. To continue to keep the most abusive of these principals in their current positions would be rather telling of Dr. Vitti's true intentions for this district. Too many administrators believe that building up students requires the tearing down of teachers and this is politics at its worst. There is no teamwork in schools where principals bully and terrorize their enemies and reward and coddle their favorites. I hope that July brings wholesale changes to our local principals and administrators. Otherwise, why did we bring Dr. Vitti to Duval?

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