Duval Partners Selects Director; Management Organization Also Picked to Help with 4 Schools

Article excerpt

Byline: Topher Sanders

After months of meeting behind closed doors, Duval Partners for Excellent Education on Monday hired an executive director and chose a partner to possibly run the county's four most struggling schools, according to a Duval Partners member.

Former School Board Chairwoman Brenda Priestly Jackson will serve as the organization's executive director and the Miami Lakes-based National Academic Educational Partners was selected as the potential partnering management organization, Duval Partners member Marcella Washington said.

National Academic will initially serve as a consultant to Duval Partners. Its role could change if Duval County Public Schools' appeal to continue operating its four intervene schools is rejected by the state.

Priestly Jackson and National Academic's owner, Jeffrey Hernandez, declined to comment because they said they had not yet been formally offered the jobs by Duval Partners.

The group's chairman, Cleve Warren, had said earlier he would call the Times-Union on Monday night about the private meeting but had not by press time.

The school system is still waiting to hear whether state Education Commissioner John Winn will recommend to the State Board of Education that the district be given another year to manage the four schools: Raines, Ribault Andrew Jackson high schools and North Shore K-8.

Winn's recommendation was expected Monday. The state board will vote on the appeal on July 19, and it's likely the board will follow Winn's recommendation.

Duval Partners had slim pickings for both the executive director and the management organization. Only two groups said they were willing to take on the task of managing the schools with such a tight time frame.

The group will have about five weeks to prepare for the school year if the State Board of Education rejects the appeal.

Priestly Jackson, who did not seek re-election to the School Board last year, was picked over Ron Baker, former deputy chief executive officer of the Jacksonville Port Authority. They were the only two contenders for the job. …