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ACPS superintendent does not have certificates required by her contract

Dr. Carlee Simon

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon does not hold certificates that are required in her contract and is thus in breach of contract.

Dr. Simon was hired as Interim Superintendent on December 15, 2020, at a salary of $160,000 per year plus an automobile allowance of $500 per month and a cell phone. The contract expired on June 30, 2021.

At the school board’s March 16 meeting, the board agreed to hire Simon as the permanent Superintendent with a salary of $175,000 starting July 1, 2021, and expiring on June 30, 2023. That contract includes an automobile allowance of $650 per month and a cell phone. 

In addition to Simon’s salary, the contract adds $2000 per year as a “special qualification salary” for becoming certified during a contract year. The statute referred to in that section (Florida Statutes 1001.47(4)(a)) refers to elected school superintendents, so it’s not clear why that bonus is included in Simon’s contract, since she is not an elected superintendent.

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The contract also requires Simon to “at all times throughout the term of this Contract maintain and keep current a valid certification in administration and supervision or equivalent as issued by the Florida Department of Education… Suspension, revocation, or lapse of such certification shall be deemed a breach of this Contract by the Superintendent and shall release the Board from all obligations under this Contract.”

However, public records requests to the Florida Department of Education have only resulted in teaching certificates that expired in 2013. Specifically, Simon first applied for an initial two-year temporary teaching certificate on June 20, 2000, under the name Carlee Poston. She became certified in the subject area of “Industrial Arts-Technology Education (Grades 6-12)” on November 15, 2000. On May 29, 2001, she applied for a temporary certificate for the school years of 2000-2003, and a three-year temporary certificate was issued for those years on June 28, 2001. 

Simon applied for a Professional Teaching Certificate under the name of Carlee Escue on April 7, 2003, and the certificate was issued for the period of July 1, 2003 – June 30, 2008. On August 26, 2003, Simon (under the name of Escue) added the subject “Mathematics (Grades 6-12)” to her certificate. 

Simon applied for an “Education Leadership All Levels” certificate on September 18, 2007, after earning a Master’s in Education Leadership from the University of Florida, and that was subsequently added to her teaching certificate, which still had an expiration date of June 30, 2008. 

Simon renewed her teaching certificate on April 22, 2008, and that certificate was valid July 1, 2008 – June 30, 2013. The Florida Department of Education has no further applications or certificates on file for Simon under any of her names, which means she has been in breach of her contract since July 1, and the school board is released from all obligations under the contract if they wish to fire her. 

Suzanne Kay brought the issue up at general public comment at tonight’s school board meeting, and Dr. Simon responded, “There is no certification requirement to be a superintendent in the state of Florida… That is in the law. There are many superintendents who have never even been educators. So I am fully qualified to serve as superintendent. I also have a doctorate in Education Leadership and Policy, I have a background in school finance and school law, you are welcome to look at my C.V. Before I took this position, I was seeking my second doctorate in Urban Leadership or Urban Planning.”

Simon did not address the allegation that she is out of compliance with her contract.

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