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Duval teacher says superintendent choice seems like it’s about ‘politics’ over ‘educating kids’

Duval teacher says superintendent choice seems like it’s about ‘politics’ over ‘educating kids’

  • PublishedMay 25, 2024

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Duval County teacher voiced his frustrations with the school district’s pick for the next superintendent.

Dr. Christopher Bernier was announced as the next Duval County School Board superintendent after resigning as Lee County’s superintendent in April.

Chris Guerrieri, a Duval Schools teacher, said the school district ignored many warning signs with its choice for the district’s leader. He said it seemed like the teachers’ concerns were ignored.

“I think teachers are frustrated that the school board doesn’t seem to care what they think,” Guerrieri said. “There’s a lot of red flags about Dr. Bernier and they picked him anyways. And to me, that’s very, very troubling. And it makes me think it’s not about educating kids or running the school system. It’s politics.”

Some of Guerrieri’s concerns about Bernier included that the former Lee County superintendent left his role on short notice. In an April 8 board meeting video obtained by News4JAX, Bernier discussed his resignation, and board members noted that his resignation was unexpected.

Another of Guerrieri’s concerns was that the Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz backs Bernier. He’s also listed as a reference in Bernier’s application packet.

RELATED: Parents have mixed reactions to Duval Schools’ choice for superintendent

Guerrieri described Diaz as the “architect for a lot of problems” the school district is facing.

“Closing schools, Manny Diaz firing teachers, Manny Diaz not providing enough funding for schools. Manny Diaz, he’s the one responsible for them. And for us to take this candidate. It doesn’t make sense. It’s like we’re taking the arsonist man to help put out the fire,” Guerrieri said.

Duval Teachers United President Tammie Brooks-Evans hoped Bernier would do what’s best to ensure the community, students and parents are heard.

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“That they make decisions that are in the best interest of everyone, that people will be treated fairly, that those decisions will be well thought out,” Brooks-Evans said. “And that they’re going to move the district forward so that we can move away from the issues that we’ve been having in the last few years and get things where they’re actually working more effectively.”

Guerrieri, on the other hand, hoped the new superintendent would prove him wrong.

“But if past is prologue, we’re in for some real troubles. I really saw last night or yesterday as a bad day for public education in Jacksonville, Florida,” he said.

Brooks-Evans said the teachers union will also pay attention to Bernier’s leadership. She also shared a message for other teachers who may have apprehensions about Bernier.

“I would tell our members and teachers who have concerns that DTU will be watching to see how things can operate under his leadership. The expectation is that the school board superintendent would continue to follow the agreements that are in black and white for our members and to do what’s best for them, and the best for the students that we teach and the communities that we represent,” she said.

Copyright 2024 by WJXT News4JAX – All rights reserved.

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