Prayer at center of Clay County school board controversy

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - Residents, tired of in-fighting, voice their concerns at Clay County School Board meeting Thursday night

The controversy is between two members of the school board, vice chair Janice Kerekes and board member Charles Van Zant.

In last month's primary, Van Zant defeated the sitting Clay County school superintendent and only a write-in candidate opposes him in November's General Election.

The strong emotions started earlier this year when Clay County came under fire from an atheist group for allowing prayer around flag poles on school campuses.

Van Zant was a strong supporter of prayer on campus. Kerekes is accusing Van Zant of wanting to fire the school board attorney for advising the board to approve prayer, but only with a number of restrictions.

"Our attorney has advised us legally what we had to follow ," said Kerekes. "I think that's part of what's behind this. That our attorney did advise us to follow the law, and Mr. Van Zant was not in agreement with a 30 minute buffer for any group that wants to use our facilities they can use our facilities."

Kerekes has numerous criticisms of  Van Zant beyond that.

It got to the point during a meeting, before the primary, she brought up getting rid of elections for superintendent and having the board appoint one which could have stopped Van Zant.

The public let the board have it as these two board members find themselves in the midst of a very public rivalry.

"The election's been done," said Van Zant. "Looks like I'll probably be the next superintendent of schools, so I would suggest everybody just get on board with that idea and I agree we do need to get on board with the business of the children. " 

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