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School Board chair departs with plea for peace

Raymon Troncoso
Incumbent Elizabeth Andersen, left, and challenger April Carneytake part in a town hall forum hosted by Beaches Watch on Aug. 3, 2022.

Former Duval County School Board Chair Elizabeth Andersen gave a tearful farewell to the School Board this week. She’ll be replaced by conservative parent April Carney at the next meeting. 

Carney, endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, beat out the four-year School Board veteran by about 1,500 votes in August. Andersen’s departing message from the board was one of action. 

"I wanted to come up here tonight and to say, like, let's all just get along and let's move forward and everything will be fine," Anderson said. "I just don't know that I can say that, and so my message to folks is to stay engaged. ... I believe that there are children, that there are families that our school system needs us to keep calling out hate, needs us to keep calling out systemic oppression."

During her time as School Board chair, Andersen oversaw the controversial renaming process for six Duval Schools named for Confederate generals, and led the board in its decision to maintain a mask mandate until COVID-19 cases fell below a certain threshold last fall. That was even after state officials temporarily slashed school board members' salaries over the policy. 

A Moms For Liberty candidate, April Carney says her top priorities joining the board are school choice, conservative spending and getting “activism and agendas” out of the classroom.

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.