Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schools' General Services Chief Apologizes for Comment on Gibson

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schools' General Services Chief Apologizes for Comment on Gibson

Article excerpt

Byline: Alliniece T. Andino, Times-Union staff writer

A top official with the Duval County school system apologized yesterday to School Board member Gwen Gibson for calling her "the dumbest woman" he's ever met.

The apology from John Radcliffe, the school system's director of general services, came after two of Gibson's colleagues, Linda Sparks and Martha Barrett, joined the Jacksonville branch of the NAACP in calling for Radcliffe's resignation.

Superintendent John Fryer said he planned to issue a written reprimand to Radcliffe.

Gibson said she was offended. But she could not be reached for further comment after Radcliffe's early-evening apology.

The flare-up stems from when Radcliffe walked out of a Duval County School Board meeting Tuesday night, while members discussed problems with school transportation.

Gibson implied Radcliffe was incompetent when he could not answer a question about driver license regulations for school bus drivers.

Radcliffe stormed out of the meeting.

"I can't stand that woman," he said to the first person he spotted in the hall. "She is the dumbest woman I've ever met."

Isaiah Rumlin, president of the local NAACP, said yesterday he contacted Fryer to demand Radcliffe be removed. Rumlin described Radcliffe's actions as degrading, disrespectful and reprehensible.

"Radcliffe displayed unprofessionalism and was without question insubordinate," said Rumlin, who was flanked at a news conference by several city and state elected officials.

State Sen. Betty Holzendorf, D-Jacksonville, said Radcliffe's comments cut deep with racial and sexist overtones because Gibson is the only black woman on the School Board.

"Mr. Radcliffe is her employee and he should not have made that statement," Holzendorf said. ". . . If he said that about the superintendent, what would have happened?"

About three hours after the NAACP's news conference, Radcliffe publicly apologized to Gibson. And Fryer said he would issue a reprimand. …

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