Legal battle between Florida school board, superintendent could cost district six figures

Apr 20, 2013 by

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – Public schools find all sorts of ways to waste taxpayer money.

But the legal costs that are about to pile up in the Clay County, Florida school district can only be described as absurd.

The school board and Superintendent Charlie Van Zant have an ongoing disagreement over personnel matters. That fight recently boiled over when the board voted 3-2 to change the job description for the next director of career and technical education.

Van Zant doesn’t think the school board should have the right to alter job descriptions for positions in the district. He’s hired an attorney and is preparing to sue the board over the matter, according to a report from

“I don’t think the people in Clay County expect school board members to autonomously on their own accord write job descriptions,” Van Zant said. “It’s never happened so I don’t think they can do it without a superintendent’s recommendation. So it’s really a simple, simple matter.”

It’s a simple matter that’s going result in a lot of unnecessary legal fees. A court battle over the issue could end up costing the district more than $100,000, according to Carol Studdard, chair of the school board.

Taxpayers should be outraged over the mere possibility of such a waste of school resources.

The last time we checked, school board members are elected by the public to govern school districts. Superintendents are hired by board to operate districts on a day-to-day basis.

That means the school board is the boss and the superintendent is the employee. What’s wrong with the boss establishing policy for the district? How can an employee be allowed to waste money suing the boss over such a decision?

This is yet another example of how education professionals have attempted to mute school boards around the nation and turn them into mindless rubber stamps for administrative recommendations. Superintendents and other administrators don’t like it when board members think on their own and exert their authority.

After all, administrators are education professionals and most school board members are not.

Oh well. The people elect school boards to run the districts they pay for. That means final decisions on all matters should lie with school boards, not school employees.

If Van Zant follows through with his threat to sue the board, and wastes money doing so, the board should strongly consider hiring a new, more cooperative superintendent.

He is, after all, the employee, and he’s clearly guilty of insubordination.

via Legal battle between Florida school board, superintendent could cost district six figures – :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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