School board superintendent fired


Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon was fired by the school board tonight on a 3-2 vote.

Dr. Simon was hired as Interim Superintendent on December 15, 2020, after the former superintendent (who had previously resigned but had planned to stay through the end of the school year) was fired at the first meeting of newly-elected Member Diyonne McGraw; Simon became the permanent superintendent on March 16, 2021. The first effort to remove her began in May of 2021 when a “No Confidence” petition began circulating.

Governor DeSantis declared McGraw’s seat vacant on June 17, after it became known that McGraw did not live in the district for her seat. Mildred Russell was appointed to the vacant seat by the governor on August 18 and was widely expected to form a coalition to fire Simon, but months went by without a motion to terminate her contract. However, evaluations of Simon’s performance were discussed at the board’s February 8, 2022, meeting, and Russell then asked that Simon’s contract be added to the agenda of an upcoming meeting.

At tonight’s meeting, Russell made a quick motion to terminate Simon, effective March 3, without cause and with 20 weeks’ severance pay, and hire an interim as soon as possible; Member Gunnar Paulson quickly seconded the motion. Member Leanetta McNealy objected, saying she thought they were only going to discuss the contract, but Chair Rob Hyatt moved to public comment on the motion.

54 people spoke during public comment, with 33 speaking in favor of keeping Simon and 21 speaking in favor of terminating her.

After public comment, Simon had a chance to speak: “This is a political position, and I’ve been in education for a long time… The political world has really caused a lot of damage in education. It’s happening right now in Tallahassee, it’s happening in this situation.” She then looked directly at Russell: “It’s political, and you made it personal.” Turning back to the audience, she concluded, “I am proud of my record, and in years to come, I will still be proud of my record… I knew that I wasn’t gonna be here long… I’m not going away, whether I have this job or not… It’s been an honor.”

McNealy spoke for a long time, reading all of Simon’s curriculum vitae, along with editorial comments. She said the school board was dysfunctional before Simon got there and reiterated a request she has made several times for the board to have a retreat.

Hyatt said his evaluation is a public record and that he could look in the mirror and feel comfortable with his vote because “this is something I take seriously. I take children in this district seriously, and I told Dr. Simon early on that I was not going to be part of dragging her through the mud… Right now, we have a school system that really is in disarray… we’ve got people who feel like the hatchet is going to drop. This is something that is real, it’s widespread, it’s not a rogue person here and there, and it’s very serious… I’ve talked very clearly with the superintendent… Things are not working for our school system, and it takes more than talk to make it work.”

Hyatt, Paulson, and Russell voted to terminate Simon, while Tina Certain and McNealy voted to retain her. Donna Jones was named Acting Superintendent, and the board will decide who to appoint as Interim Superintendent at their next meeting in two weeks.

  • She was a “shop” teacher! If her getting on her milk crate and shouting about masks mandates wasn’t political then what was? What’s her “record”? I would appreciate one person, a single entity, informing the community what she did to improve the learning/educational environment for our children. Get away from your political prejudice. Tell me, give a valid argument for keeping her. If you can’t…sit down and be quiet.

    Ironic, the damage to education has only been caused, in her opinion, by conservative leaders. Go figure.

    • You got it right…the mask has been a political statement
      All along…the face mask is equivalent to the MAGA hat
      For progressives…hypochondriacs, people & criminals who want
      To hide their faces so they can’t be identified, social-Democrat fascist Nazis, BLM social justice types, control freaks. Shame on her, the school board and the teachers unions
      For abusing children by forcing masks on the children.
      Who the hell wants to wear an uncomfortable mask? There’s people
      Who got them on with their boppers hanging out, there’s
      People walking around outside on a beautiful day with
      Them on…when asked, why are you still wearing the
      Mask? You get dumb looks saying “I don’t know” or “I’m
      Used to it”…”the pandemic was the perfect cover to
      Implement the great reset”…the other fake crisis
      Is climate change. They ruined the dollar, they ruined
      The economy, they hurt the children, they forced an
      Experimental Nazi vaccine on everyone on the planet,
      They caused anxiety…they caused inflation. How do
      You like the price of gas at the pump and the price of
      Groceries. They took away our Freedom. Anyone who
      Still wears the mask is the problem. You cannot
      Communicate effectively with masks hiding facial
      Expression. Good bye & good riddance Dr. Simon.
      You will not be missed. And to the rest of the school board, remove the mask. It’s creepy. The charade
      Is over.

      • I’m glad Dr. Simon is gone as well, but you sound like a raving lunatic.

      • Experimental Nazi vaccine????? Good grief, ridiculous statement.

      • Nothing points to the failure of our education system more than the post above.

      • I agree. What does blk have to do with her being fired!! Calm down and keep the situation on the topic, because right now your sounds kinda stressed out yourself!!

  • I’m proud of your record too Dr. Simon. You’ve served your office well! The light you’ve shown on the inequities of our education and the plan setup to fix them will cause good change for years to come! Mrs. Russell represents the irrational opinions of the governor. She DOES NOT represent the opinion of any citizens of Alachua County.

    • Are you of the delusion that the opinion of the citizens of Alachua County are monolithic? Apparently by the number of those citizens that spoke in favor of letting Simon go, Member Russell did represent the opinion of many citizens of Alachua County.

    • What record? The 50 interviews when she should have been available to teachers and staff during that time.

  • Dr. Simon: empty your desk, gather up all your shiz, and when you leave the premises, please turn off
    The lights, will ya?

    • Dr Simon: do us all a favor and you can put your face mask back on.

  • Good job! Now get rid of McNealey, she constipapted the entire board! POS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Way to go Mildred! The only way they got Simon to do their progressive agenda nonsense was by McGraw lying about her residence to win a district that she didn’t live in. Now….take off your masks and throw away the race based liberal indoctrination. We need educated young people who can think for themselves not Marxist drones.

  • Children were persecuted for two years by this woman. Then she’s so high on her power trip she made up lies about the Camp director, apparently with insight by her hand picked personal assistant? Is the PA being fired, too maybe?

  • If your kids want to do well in school, they probably need to work hard, focus and apply themselves. No magic white woman with an equity song and dance will make up for laziness and lack of effort.

  • Omg. Gainesville has turned into a MAGA hell. Governor HAS TO GO. How many anti maskers care about the health of your kids and teachers. NONE. Shame on you parents Now go feed your kids hot dogs for lunch and please if they get sick don’t bother our healthcare syst with your ignorance

    • You act like being an anti masker is a bad thing. Lol. I am absolutely against covering the nose and mouth of anyone against their will. Please don’t ever stop calling me an anti masker.

      • At least a few of the Carlee supporters who spoke at the meeting looked like they should limit themselves to a single hot dog for lunch, and maybe a small garden salad for dinner. I guess the irony of ‘following the science’ but being your own ‘deathsantis’ by virtue of your own dietary choices is probably lost on many.

    • If Gainesville had turned MAGA (which would be amazing), you still would have enjoyed the freedom to continue donning that face diaper as well as the freedom to force YOUR OWN kids to wear one. You do know that “Follow the Science” doesn’t mean to blindly be subservient to your political overlords but in fact means to be open minded and research all aspects of a science based issue?

  • Saw her interview on the news…talk about hypocrisy. Made comments stating she should have been allowed to finish out the school year and how disruptive it would be for her removal. Went after Ms. Russell the way she went after those who weren’t part of her squad.

    Where was that sentiment when the last superintendent was removed? These woke people, they’re sleeping until they get jabbed by their own practices. Now she’s got the time to do 100 interviews or work on that 2nd PhD. Hopefully it will be course work that contains “How to be an Effective Leader and Not a Disruptive One,” or “How to Play Well and Get Along With Others,” or even “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Break It.”

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