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DCPS superintendent finalist named in two federal lawsuits

DCPS superintendent finalist named in two federal lawsuits

  • PublishedMay 23, 2024

Less than 24 hours before Duval County Public Schools names a new Superintendent, DCPS parents react to one of the finalists being named in federal lawsuits.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Duval County Public Schools parents are reacting to one of the school district’s superintendent finalists being listed in two federal discrimination lawsuits at his previous district in Lee County.

“We don’t need additional controversy here in Duval,” said Laura Bearl, a Fishweir Elementary School parent.

Less than 24 hours before a new superintendent is announced for her child’s district, Bearl told First Coast News she’s worried about Dr. Christopher Bernier being considered after she took notice to the two lawsuits he’s named in.

“I think we definitely need somebody who is not under ongoing litigation,” Bearl said. “We need somebody completely focused on our problems and can give us everything they have. I thought that such a thing should automatically disqualify Dr. Bernier.”

Emily McCarthy is another parent who believes the school district needs a superintendent who can focus on the current issues within DCPS.

“We have a lot of issues here at DCPS,” said McCarthy. “We want someone who’s able to focus on the DCPS problems we’re having now. We want a stable captain. We want someone that’s able to come in here with fresh eyes and solve some of our problems with our county education.”

Dr. Daniel Smith is also in the running for the superintendent position, and whoever’s named on Thursday for the position, parents want it to be the best fit for the district.

“I want him to make sure we have good schools all across Duval,” Bearl said. “I want all of our schools to be A schools, I want all of them to get the care and attention they deserve.”

DCPS released the following statement to First Coast News on Wednesday regarding the matter:

We are aware of this litigation, and this information was provided to school board members as part of the background check process. It is common for superintendents to be named in lawsuits involving their districts. It has happened to the superintendent in our district as well.  Florida law allows school boards to provide legal representation to superintendents named in such suits. Again, this is a common practice. For your awareness, the applicable statue language is provided below. Nothing has changed regarding Dr. Bernier’s status as a finalist for our superintendent position.” 

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