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Former Duval superintendent to lead national literacy nonprofit

 Dr. Diana Greene formally retired from Duval County Public Schools July 24, her last day on the job was June 2.
Duval County Public Schools
Diana Greene formally retired from Duval County Public Schools on July 24. Her last day on the job was June 2.

Former Duval County School Superintendent Diana Greene has already landed her next role: leading the national, anti-racist early literacy nonprofit Children's Literacy Initiative.

The Philadelphia-based nonprofit provides books for students and coaching for educators teaching in pre-K through grade 6.

According to the organization's mission statement, "Children’s Literacy Initiative seeks to dismantle structural racism by providing Black and Latinx children with the anti-racist early literacy instruction, support and advocacy needed to create equity in education."

Greene formally retired from Duval County Public Schools on Monday, though her last day at the district was June 2. She praised the literacy nonprofit in announcing her new position this week.

"Joining CLI is a tremendous honor," Greene said in a news release from the nonprofit. "Now, more than ever, it is crucial to prioritize high-quality professional learning support for teachers and ensure that children receive the effective, joyful and culturally responsive literacy instruction they deserve."

CLI has partnerships with school districts in Denver, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, two school districts in New Jersey and in Broward County, Florida, according to the organization's website.

"Dr. Greene's exceptional leadership expertise at the school district level, her unwavering dedication to childhood literacy, acumen in resource development and profound commitment to equity in education will propel CLI forward in fulfilling its mission," Sandra Louk LaFleur, chair of the board of directors at CLI, said in a news release.

CLI highlighted Greene's 37-year career as an educator, as well as Duval Schools' improved graduation rates and the passage of two voter referendums under Greene's leadership in their announcement.

The organization also emphasized Greene's "deep commitment to social justice and racial healing," as evidenced by the renaming of six Duval Schools named after Confederate leaders during her tenure.

Riverside High School Principal Timothy Feagins, Duval County Superintendent Diana Greene as well as Duval County School Board members Warren Jones and Darryl Willie celebrate the installation of turf at The Backyard, the multipurpose athletic field behind Riverside High School on Oct. 7, 2022. | Will Brown, Jacksonville Today
Will Brown
Jacksonville Today
Diana Greene celebrates the installation of turf at a multipurpose athletic field behind Riverside High School, one of the schools renamed under her leadership.

Greene retired from Duval Schools as she hit her five-year anniversary of leading the district. Greene was among a small handful of Black women in the country who have served as superintendents of large, urban school districts.

She also was part a wave of Florida superintendents leaving their posts in recent years. Since 2020, 24 of the state's 29 appointed superintendents have quit or been pushed out, according to the Florida School Boards Association.

In the months leading up to Greene's retirement, Duval Schools received national scrutiny for its comprehensive school book review process for compliance with new Florida laws limiting instruction on gender identity, sexual orientation and systemic racism.

Days before her retirement, Greene came under fire from Florida's Department of Education for the district's alleged failure to report 50 cases of teacher misconduct. Dozens of community members rallied in support of Greene, calling efforts to oust her "political assassination."

CLI did not immediately respond to a request about whether Greene will remain in Jacksonville or move to the nonprofit's headquarters in Philadelphia.

Greene was earning a salary of $300,000 at Duval Schools. It was among the lowest salaries of of large Florida school districts and the result of Greene's request during negotiations last year that proposed additional funds go back to the district instead. CLI's salaries are not public record like the school district's, but the organization's nonprofit tax filings show the previous CEO made about $285,000 last year.

Duval Schools' search for Greene's replacement continues. The district says it plans to choose her successor within the next six months.

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.