Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Parents, Residents Voice Criteria for Schools' Next Leader

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Parents, Residents Voice Criteria for Schools' Next Leader

Article excerpt

Byline: Denise Amos

A group of about 40 Duval County parents and community members Monday gave district leaders a list of attributes they want in a new superintendent.

They said they want someone who will hold high expectations for children, who will ensure that students with disabilities have a greater voice in schools, and someone who will make it a priority to involve students' parents and their community in their education.

They want someone who will continue emphasizing "restorative justice" techniques instead of negative punishments for students who break the rules. They want someone who'll spread the tools for college-readiness beyond magnet schools into all high schools. And they want a leader who will let teachers have more flexibility in classroom lessons and the curriculum, parents said.

Some parents suggested that the new leader improve safety at schools, including better lighting and signage around schools or metal detectors at high schools.

April Robinson, mother of a sixth-grader who is diabetic, says the new leader should increase nurses or school staff who are trained to support students with chronic illness at schools, "somebody who will be accountable for what's going on with children who are diabetic."

Duval leaders took their suggestions at the community meeting at Terry Parker High, one of four meetings about the new superintendent and new district goals. Another meeting is set for Wednesday at Ed White High School at 6 p.m.

"We are being inclusive, we are being receptive and we are committed," Paula Wright, chairwoman of the School Board, told the audience. Four other board members attended.

Richard Danford, a community member, said it's important to hire a leader with "interpersonal skills that will allow the superintendent to interface effectively, not only with employees but externally."

Felicia Gaines, Jean Ribault Senior High advisory council chair, said she wants a superintendent who will see to it that no more schools are in danger of closure or takeover by a charter school or outside entity because of persistently low grades. Currently Duval has three schools in such danger if they don't achieve C grades this year. …

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