Education
4:21 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Clay Circuit Judge Orders School Superintendent Question On Nov. Ballot

The Clay County Commission will have until Thursday to draft a resolution letting voters decide whether the district school superintendent should be elected or appointed.

A circuit judge has ordered the controversial measure be added to the November 4 ballot.

Current Clay County Schools Superintendent Charles Van Zant Jr.
Current Clay County Schools Superintendent Charles Van Zant Jr.
Credit Clay County Schools

The  Clay County School Board voted in July to put the question on the ballot, and sent the measure to the County Commission to include it, as required by law. However, the County Commission voted to delay the measure until November 2016.

That prompted school board members to take the matter to court.

Late Tuesday, Circuit Judge Mark Borello ruled in their favor.

“The Court finds that the School Board’s request to place the proposition on the ballot for the November 4, 2014 general election was timely made,” the ruling stated.

John Devault, who represented the Commission in court, declined to comment on the ruling Wednesday.

School Board Chairwoman Carol Studdard said the point of the ballot measure is to place the decision voters’ hands.

“Whether the voters in Clay County want an appointed Superintendent or an elected Superintendent is entirely up to the voters,” she said.

Currently, Clay County is one of about two dozen Florida school districts that have elected superintendents. Neighboring St. Johns and Duval counties have appointed superintendents.

The County Commission will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the resolution Thursday.

Clay County Supervisor of Elections Chris Chambless says the deadline for getting the measure on the ballot is Friday. He said he expects to have the Commission’s resolution in hand by Thursday afternoon.

“My hope is that they will go ahead and do what the judge directed them to do,” Studdard said. “We’ll have to kind of wait and see tomorrow what happens. “

You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.