JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene will step down and retire at the end of the school year, a divided school board agreed during an emergency meeting Tuesday.
Greene, along with her attorneys, negotiated her early retirement settlement over the past few days and the severance agreement was approved by the school board with a 4-3 vote.
The emergency meeting came days after the city’s attorneys hired an outside law firm to conduct a wide-ranging investigation into teacher misconduct in the district and how it’s reported to the state.
Ray Poole, DCPS’s chief legal counsel, informed the school board about Greene’s intentions to retire early on during the tense emergency meeting to discuss Greene’s contract and the possibility of replacing her.
Greene’s contract was just renewed last summer for another four years and was set to expire after the 2026 school year. She has been with the district since 2018 and was named Florida Superintendent of the Year in 2021.
Following public comment, Jacksonville Office of General Counsel attorney Jon Phillips told board members he has been in talks with Greene’s attorneys for days and said he was ready to present a signed agreement to the board for consideration and potential approval.
In the agreement, obtained by News4JAX, Greene will officially retire on July 24 and receive a lump sum severance payment of $114,942, which is 20 weeks of her current base rate pay, along with a sick leave payout of more than $20,000. The city attorney said Greene has already signed the agreement but has eight days to change her mind.
Starting on June 3, Greene would be placed on annual leave until she enters retirement. Her last day in the office would be June 2, the last day of school for students.
Greene did not speak during the nearly three-and-a-half-hour meeting but was in attendance.
As for who will take Greene’s place, the school board decided unanimously to postpone a decision on who would become the interim superintendent until a May 16 meeting. The interim can serve up to six months or until a new superintendent is hired.
School board chair Dr. Kelly Coker said Greene told her as early as April 17 that she was considering retirement. That conversation came about a month after the Duval County School Police Department arrested a longtime music teacher at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts accused of lewd conduct involving a student and removed three other DA teachers from classrooms as part of a probe at the school into claims that abuse had been tolerated for years.
The moves set off a wave of investigations and Greene and other school officials came under fire in the days following.
News4JAX asked Coker if Greene was being pushed out and if it was a result of pressure from Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“I can tell you the governor’s office isn’t a part of my decision. I serve the children of Duval County, and I’m just doing what I believe is a good and right in my heart for the children of Duval County to refocus, renew our energy on student achievement and the safety and well-being of our students.” Coker said.
“My fear is that every day that we continue to do things the same way that we’ve been doing them that we’re putting children’s safety at risk,” board member April Carney said.
“If it’s truly about the children, if it’s truly about finding out what happened not just at DA but throughout the system, then we need to wait until the investigation is done,” board member Warren Jones said.
MORE: Douglas Anderson music teacher’s disciplinary history shows record of being accused of inappropriately touching students | ‘My high school hell’: Letters from former Douglas Anderson students detail years of anguish involving accused teacher
Multiple people from the public spoke out both for and against Greene during Tuesday’s special meeting.
“It’s not accountability,” said former teacher Fred Cromity. “It’s somebody taking the fall for a lot of people who are responsible but we don’t know what’s in those 50 accusations that were brought forth. We don’t know what happened. We would like to know, and we think the process has gone too soon instead of investigating and finding out.”
But there were other community members who supported Dr. Greene in the past who said given recent events it’s time to go.
“I think she’s done phenomenal, incredible things for our county,” Michelle Tipton said. “I think she’s done overall an incredible job. But specific to this I think that she’s had specific violations within the state that the school board has no other choice other than for her to be removed.”
There was a regular school board meeting Tuesday night where more public comments about the issue were made.
Some parents and teachers spoke out about a deeper issue that existed before Greene became the superintendent.
“This district has had a reporting issue for a long time we know about DA but it goes so much farther,” Tim Miller said. “People are afraid to report issues because they fear for their jobs, bottom line.”
“I will tell you that the current superintendent is one of the favorites among the teachers of the past. I can also tell you that this situation that you are dealing with is going back many years in many different forms,” Darlene Miller said.
Coker said the early retirement was a mutual agreement and that there wasn’t any one thing that led to Dr. Greene stepping down, but other board members have suggested she was forced out.
Sources within the district told News4JAX 10 days ago that Greene’s job could be under the microscope as some had been calling for her resignation over the district’s handling of the situation at the school.
Last month, the Florida education commissioner threatened to slash Greene’s salary because he said 50 cases of misconduct had not been reported to the state in a timely manner under the law.
Greene said she didn’t know about the late reporting and pledged to look into it and take action. The external investigation is also looking into the state’s claim.
Following the letter from the state, DCPS leaders reassigned the district’s supervisor of professional practices.
In response to rumors of Greene’s departure, supporters rallied at the DCPS headquarters last month and spoke in her favor at a special board meeting with some noting issues at Douglas Anderson predated her tenure as superintendent.
The Jacksonville Public Education Fund applauded Greene’s accomplishments during her tenure.
“Since 2018, more low-income students have donned caps and gowns, walked across a stage and accepted their diploma than any other time in DCPS history, despite a global pandemic that disproportionately impacted low-income families and families of color. This coupled with Duval County Public School’s overall graduation rate of 85% tells a story of success, especially when placed in historical context,” JPEF wrote in a blog post. “As the Duval County School Board prepares to begin the important work of hiring a new school superintendent, I would like to acknowledge and commend Dr. Greene for the many achievements during her five-year tenure.”