Clay County Chamber addresses school board dispute


CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – The Chamber of Commerce in Clay County is taking aim at Clay County's school district after recent disputes during school board meetings in Clay County.

The Clay County Chamber of Commerce sent school board members and Superintendent of Schools Charlie Van Zant a letter about the relationship between Van Zant and the board members.

"It is our feeling that the recent disputes among Clay County's Superintendent and School Board place the business community of Clay County at a competitive disadvantage," reads the letter. "So not to give the impression that this is simply the feeling of our Board of Directors, we recently polled our Chamber members and close to 80 percent of the respondents believe that the division within the school system's governing body is harmful to Clay County business interests."

DOCUMENT: Clay County Chamber of Commerce letter

"It's known to be one of the best school districts around and it is a tragedy it's come to this," said Clay County School Board Member Carol Studdard. "I thought it was a great letter. I was really glad to see it. I've been chamber member since 1980 and I feel very strongly the way they do."

"If you've attended Clay County School Board meeting lately, you'd have to ask yourself, is majority of board there to serve our students, or be served themselves," said Van Zant.

Van Zant said that he's pushing back against the board on things that are his legal responsibility. He's pushing for things like calling for judicial review on the board's decision to change job qualifications.

Studdard said she and other board members don't like the fight, but won't back down.

"It's a shame, because we want nothing more at board meetings than to get back to educating our children," said Studdard.

"I will lead and do my job to the fullest extent of the law and I hope the school board will calm down and do their job under Florida statutes," said Van Zant.