CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – The Clay County Supervisor of Elections Office announced on Facebook on Monday that a former Clay County superintendent of schools filed to run again.
Clay County will elect or re-elect a superintendent next year, and former Superintendent Charlie Van Zant formally tossed his hat into the ring.
"I think the leadership in Clay County is turning Clay into Duval. Nobody wants that," Van Zant said Monday as he and his campaign coordinator met with News4Jax outside Middleburg High School.
Van Zant said it is about leadership and relationships.
"It wasn't so much, really that I want to. I have talked to so many teachers, principals, assistant principals at work in our great school system here that are absolutely miserable with their leadership right now," the Clay County superintendent of schools candidate said.
At Clay County School Board meetings over Van Zant’s four-year term, he frequently defended himself from criticism and, near the end of his term, he was accused of plagiarism and fraud.
"None of them were true. They were all proven blatantly false. But they all came up within the month before voting day," Van Zant said. "So, you know, I'll let that go."
Van Zant stands by his denials and said he stands by his record leading Clay County schools from 2012 to 2016. He said he believes the district can do better if he’s re-elected.
"So, whatever they did, I'd say, in the 2018-2019 school year, is all on them. But I would not give this administration credit for the great work that Clay County teachers and principals did and how that was reflected in student scores in 2017, three months after I left the office," Van Zant said.
News4Jax spoke with current Superintendent Addison Davis by phone on Monday evening. Davis declined an on-camera interview and sent the following statement:
"Without a doubt, I believe that competition is healthy for everyone and this action will push me to build upon the outstanding strides that we have made over the last three years. For the first time since 2012, we are a double "A" School District. We are offering a world-class education, we have the highest graduation rate ever, expanded choice programs, moved every analytical measure and have improved our ranking from 18th to 8th in the state. However, my focus will continue to be placed on our children by providing a quality education to every student, every day. I look forward to our relentless pursuit to becoming the number one school district in the state of Florida."
The primary election date is set for August 2020.