Judge sides with School Board on Clay County superintendent issue


CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Late Tuesday afternoon, a judge sided with the Clay County School Board in placing on the November ballot a question before voters about whether the school district superintendent should be elected or appointed.

The next stop in the process is a special meeting by the Clay County Commission at 1 p.m. Thursday. The commission will decide whether it will appeal the judge's decision.

The deadline to get the question on the November ballot is Friday.

The issue has been dogged by controversy since the beginning.

Earlier this month, the School Board voted to put that issue to the voters, on this November's ballot. But soon after, the Clay County Commission overruled that decision, opting instead to push the vote back to the 2016 election.

The School Board later fired back with a lawsuit against the commission.

A hearing was held Tuesday morning at the Clay County Courthouse. In the past, meetings on the matter have been heated. But Tuesday, attorneys presented their arguments to Judge Mark Borello, who ruled about 5:30 p.m.

Superintendent Charlie Van Zant said these litigations were a waste of taxpayer dollars, and the focus needs to be on education.

"My focus is and continues to be on the students of Clay County and operating our school district very efficiently, and that's what I'm doing," Van Zant said.

Clay County resident Travis Christensen believes voters should be able to vote on the issue this year. His concern is that the issues surrounding the School Board have become too political.

"Right now we have elections going on," he said. "You could very easily overturn one member of the School Board's seat, rescinding this resolution so the people never vote on it."

Wendell Davis, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, said the commission is prepared to react to the judge's decision.

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