JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP is questioning the process of hiring a new superintendent for Duval County Public Schools after longtime DCPS employee and former Clay County School Superintendent Addison Davis resigned from his post as superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools and announced he’s moving back to Northeast Florida.
The chair of the school board said no candidates have been identified, and Davis told News4JAX on Wednesday he’s not sure he’s even going to apply for the superintendent job in Duval County.
“We want to be sure that number one, we are included in the process,” said Isaiah Rumlin, who is the president of the Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP.
“It seems the School Board has already predetermined its next leader,” Rumlin said in a letter to the school board.
He’s referring to Davis, who told the Tampa Bay Times he’s not applying to the open Duval County Public Schools superintendent position, but he’s not discounting the idea that someone might offer it to him.
Davis’s resignation as Hillsborough County school superintendent doesn’t go into effect until July 14.
He also said if Duval County reached out to him about applying, he’d be open to having a conversation, but he says no conversations have happened so far.
Rumlin said that doesn’t quell his concerns that the school board has “predetermined” Davis would be the next superintendent.
“I mean, he’s already sold his home, so you know, he’s coming back to Jacksonville. But we want to make sure that the process is fair and that the community is totally engaged,” Rumlin said.
In response to Rumlin’s letter, Duval County school board member Lori Hershey said, “I can assure you that I have not predetermined who our next superintendent will be and look forward to the process ahead.”
School Board Chair Dr. Kelly Coker said Wednesday she’s had recent conversations with NAACP leadership to address their concerns. She also said the only decision that’s been made so far is selecting the Florida School Boards Association to conduct a national search.
A $35,000 contract with the FSBA was signed last week.
The board will also be responsible for paying any travel costs they approve associated with the search and background searches on finalists.
“I think this school board’s history of engaging the public in critical decisions is well established, and that is fully our intent with this national search,” Dr. Coker said in a statement.
The board is holding a workshop with their search consultant on July 12 at 9 a.m. to discuss how they will engage the community in the search process.